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L. E. HORNING, B.A., Ph.D. 







VOLUME I 1880-1898 




First Edition . . November 1912 
Second Edition February 1913 




THE changes which took place in English life between the 
years 1880 and 1910 were changes affecting every activity 
of the nation, corporate and individual. They concerned 
political ideas, social habits, and commercial methods, 
religious outlook and material equipment, education and 
the housekeeper's supplies, keeping of holidays and furnish- 
ing of houses, philosophical speculation and the pursuits 
of a clerk's Saturday afternoons. After long incubation, 
the changes came about so swiftly that their magnitude 
was not recognised. Yet these thirty years made more 
difference to England than did the mechanical inven- 
tions of the early Victorian period. The locomotive, 
the telegraph, the innumerable developments of manu- 
facturing machinery had worked obvious transformations ; 
and those who saw them had thought that they saw a 
changed England. Yet not until a generation arose in 
whose lives these things were customary, did an England 
inherently changed come into being. A Rip Van Winkle 
of 1810, waking, say, in 1850, would have been completely 
bewildered by the steam-engine ; but he might have passed 
the remainder of his life in conversation which he would 
have enjoyed and found reasonably familiar. A Rip Van 
Winkle of 1870, waking in 1910, while he would have 
grasped the principle of the motor car in twenty minutes, 
would never have been on conversational terms with his 
neighbours ; he would constantly have found he did not 


know what they were talking about. For in this last period 
the subtlest transformation of all had taken place the 
changes had become part of the men themselves. Club 
windows were no longer full of old gentlemen who woke 
from snoring to deplore the spirit of the age ; the old 
gentlemen were all playing golf, and doing their best to 
understand their sons' slang. 

A few instances will suffice to bring out the contrast 
between the conditions of 1880 and those of 1910. The 
England of 1880, deep-set in a kind of habit of fighting in 
far corners of the globe, held herself aloof from European 
politics ; it could almost be made an election cry against 
Lord Beaconsfield that he was likely to entangle us in 
European disputes. The country had its nerves all in its 
extremities. The England of 1910, a vital participant in 
every European question, summoned from great self- 
governing, almost independent, dominions a conclave of 
premiers to be taken into the counsels of her Foreign Secre- 
tary. The sensitiveness had shifted back to the heart. 

In the Parliament of 1880 a Hertfordshire borough, in 
which the total poll was about 700, provided for Mr Balfour 
a seat the moral validity of which was unquestioned. In 
the Parliament of 1910 he sat as one of the Members for the 
City of London ; and his constituency of 20,000, being com- 
posed in the main of plural voters, was regarded by more 
than half the House of Commons as little better than a 
rotten borough. 

In 1880 the capital expenditure of even the greatest 
municipal authorities of the country was limited to such 
sums as they could obtain either from the Public Works 
Loan Commissioners or from private lenders, such as 
banks and insurance companies. The Funded Municipal 


Loan, subscribed by the public, had not begun to exist. 
In 1910 the total of municipal stock approached 

London society of 1880 was so circumscribed that the 
lists of the Court presentations filled only two columns 
of The Times. South African millionaires were not known 
as yet; gold in the Transvaal was but just being dis- 
covered, and Kimberley diamonds were in social estimation 
poor things beside the Brazilian and Golconda heirlooms 
of the old families. 

Naturally contrasts in manners do not admit of such 
succinct presentation ; but what would an old member 
of the Cavalry Club in 1880 have said if he could have 
foreseen that in 1909 a serious point of rivalry between 
the Cavalry Club and the Guards' Club was to be the 
quality of their respective recipes for barley-water ? 

Music halls, finding their feet after the slow decay of 
the remnants of " Corinthian " London, were in 1880 ap- 
pealing to people of the middle class. But the vast tide 
of humanity that flowed in and out of them in 1910 
differed as much from the music-hall crowd of 1880 as 
that had differed from the boon companions at Mott's in 
1865. The two latter, far apart in class, were near enough 
in a general inclination to dissipation and raffishness. 
The Coliseum crowds of 1910, without a vice to divide 
among them, represented thousands upon thousands of 
petty suburban families, whose younger members were as 
free to spend as to earn their sixpences, to stay out late, 
and to turn, if so minded, into a hundred bars where no 
one would be drunk. 

Cheap money, cheap transport, cheap literature worked 
so overwhelmingly after 1880 as to produce on all sides 


a diminution of class consciousness. Society, though a 
section of it might remain truly aristocratic, and in the 
counties might be " the county " still, became in London 
so wide that its fringes were no longer distinguishable. 
The social fabric was splitting into the two divisions of 
capital and labour. After 1880 industrial and trading 
stocks became a normal field of investment for the 
surplus money of persons not engaged in commerce or 
manufacture. This change, uniting the interests of the 
aristocratic and professional classes with those of the manu- 
facturer, gives the fundamental aspect of that alteration of 
class feeling which brought the South African millionaire 
into Park Lane. Even the " social revolution," so burning 
a gospel in 1880, did not escape the general obliterating of 
landmarks. Militant republicanism, which could make 
headway while the House of Commons consisted only of 
the landowner and the manufacturer, lost ground. The 
true strength of Fabianism lay in the fact that the great 
pooling of industrial capital, which began in the eighties, 
exposed it to all sorts of flank attacks by taxation. 
Capital was no longer a stronghold to be besieged ; it 
was a commonwealth to be administered ; and socialism, 
instead of opening sluice-gates of revolution, ran its force 
into a hundred administrative channels. Labour entered 
Parliament and town councils ; and socialism became, in 
legislative matters, a distinction of degree rather than of 

In politics the year 1880 was a real turning-point. 
Weariness of the dragging wars of thirty years and grow- 
ing disgust at neglect of the problems at home, induced 
the hope that a fresh Government would break away from 
traditional political manoeuvring. At the same time the 


presence of Mr Chamberlain in the new Government 
seemed to promise, not only attention to domestic affairs, 
but attention of a newly democratic kind a fitting sequel 
to the franchise reform of 1867. On the Conservative 
side a spirit was stirring which expressed itself in the 
Fourth Party's critical detachment from its leaders. The 
Irish, having placed Parnell at their head instead of Butt, 
came back to Westminster for the first time Nationalist 
in the sense in which recent generations understand 
that term. Lastly Labour, which, in the ascendancy 
of middle-class politics following on the Reform Bill 
of 1832, had deliberately abandoned political channels, 
began with the eighties to return its force into those 
channels. Economic developments cannot be so precisely 
dated. Yet the first experiments with the telephone 
in London, the first public use of electric light, the 
beginning of the importation of meat in mechanically 
chilled chambers, the establishment of postal orders, the 
first instance of a funded municipal debt, all belong to the 
year 1880. 

Consideration of social and economic changes has 
not formed an essential part of the scheme of previous 
historians of our times. Mr Justin McCarthy, adding 
three volumes to his notable work, brought it down from 
1880 to 1901 ; and the last volume of Dr J. F. Bright's 
admirable history treats also of these years. Mr Herbert 
Paul closes with the fall of the Liberal Government in 
1895. Each of these writers was, in regard to the period 
covered by the present work, dealing with the final stage 
of a long survey. My endeavour has been to string these 
years on a new thread ; and to this end the prolongation 
of the survey to a later date is more than the addition"of 


a certain number of years. It is a means of grasping the 
whole. The death of Queen Victoria closed an epoch, 
but the new epoch was to throw light upon that which 
preceded it. A strong political revival was to make 
plain what forces had been at work beneath the apparent 
lassitude, almost impotence, of parliamentary institutions 
in the last twenty years of Queen Victoria's reign ; and 
in society an equally astonishing self-assertion was to 
give the measure of the advance in wealth, in knowledge 
(if not hi education), in capacity for living, which had 
been accumulating behind bounds. The long reign of 
Queen Victoria did indeed somewhat chill English life 
towards its end. In political affairs it was distinctly too 
long for the well-being of Government. To the inevitable 
difficulty of serving a sovereign fixed by mere weight of 
years in a certain inaccessibility to new opinions, was 
added the difficulty that the sovereign was a woman. 
Society, the intellectual world, the arts, ethical move- 
ments, were under a crust of habit which, where it did 
not produce complete inertia, distorted the ideas that 
broke through it. In family life, in religious thought, in 
the pursuits of the people, change during the eighties 
and' nineties was almost always combative ; it became 
simpler and more straightforward under King Edward. 
The militant agnosticism which was so rife in the periodical 
publications of the eighties, the heated discussion of the 
" emancipation " of women from a purely domestic exist- 
ence to take only two instances lost in the later period 
most of their violence and something of their terror. 

The thirty years of my history fall, then, into two divi- 
sions. The first presents us the spectacle of governments 
enmeshed in older political habits, bewildered by new de- 


mands, besieged by new methods and pursued to the end 
by entanglements ; until the fall of Omdurman and the 
Peace of Vereeniging English politicians were a House 
of Atreus. But it presents us also a people busy at 
accumulation, increasing its power, and its capacity for 
the absorption of material supplies and of ideas. The 
second division gives us, in both the political and the 
social world, an explosion of energy, an expression of 
stored force, a revelation of movement. 

It will be clear from the references given in the text that 
I have relied for my dates and facts mainly upon the files 
of The Times. As for the popular interests of the moment, 
they are always mirrored in the current numbers of 
Punch, and to the files of that periodical I am deeply 
indebted. I have, of course, drawn upon the notable 
biographies of the period. Lastly, I am under a more 
personal obligation to several friends, to whom I grate- 
fully express my thanks. These are chiefly due to the 
Right Hon. G. W. E. Russell and to Sir Robert Hudson, 
who have read the proofs of my work, and given me the 
kindliest assistance and advice. Mr Charles Sturge also 
has been most generous in helping me in my researches. 




HI. 1881 : COMMON SENSE .... 




vm. 1886 


ix. 1887 

x. 1888 

XL 1889 

xii. 1890 

xm. 1891 

xiv. 1892 

xv. 1893 

xvi. 1894 

XVIL 1895 

xvm. 1896 

xix. 1897 

xx. 1898 











THE year 1880 opened in the midst of a fog un- 
paralleled in our annals, which almost without 
intermission brooded over London from November 
1879 to the following February. This gloom bad for the 
health, depressing to the spirits, obscuring the outlook 
might well have been an emanation of the feelings of 
Englishmen ; for in nearly every department of the national 
life at that moment were lowered health, depression and 
uncertainty. Trade, which for several years past had been 
struggling with falling prices, had reached a point ap- 
proaching stagnation. A soaking and inclement summer in 
1879 had ruined the crops ; in every cornfield the shocks 
had stood blackened and sprouting, till the farm-hands 
could scarcely tear the sheaves apart. The complete failure 
of the harvest, coming after years of steady decline in the 
price of corn, brought to a head the discontent of agri- 
culturists. It immediately made itself felt in London, 
where the season of 1880 was marked by a shrunken list 
of entertainments ; one ball a night, instead of two or 
three, showed that rent-rolls had been affected. Agri- 
cultural depression, as a social grievance, may be said to 
date from this bad summer. In Ireland such a summer 
had brought its inevitable result ; famine had taken cruel 
hold before the Duchess of Marlborough's relief fund was 
instituted. Hyde Park saw already those gatherings of 
the unemployed which in the next years were to force 
upon public attention a problem to which no year brought 
the solution. In South Wales the ironworks were battling 


with a market in which, between 1873 and 1879, the price 
of sheet-iron had fallen from 18 to 9 a ton. In Sheffield 
a survey of the condition of fifty-one limited liability 
companies showed that only sixteen of them had 
their shares above par; fifteen had either compounded 
with their creditors or been wound up ; and the total 
depreciation of their share capital was put at three and 
a half millions. 1 The Potteries were witnessing disputes 
about wages ; in Lancashire there were despondent 
attempts to set on foot great emigration schemes, or to 
devise " short time " agreements for working three weeks 
of the month. 

Affairs of State presented no more cheering aspect. 
The two political parties were wrangling over embroilments 
abroad that, while heavily burdening the national finances 
and demanding attention which should have been occupied 
at home, were beginning to appear to the bulk of the nation 
as gratuitous and perverse. In Afghanistan our arms 
were engaged in a war that looked like involving us in all 
the cost and blood of a permanent occupation. In South 
Africa we were confronting the resentment roused by that 
first annexation of the Transvaal which was to prove so 
inadequately considered. In South-Eastern Europe we 
were entangled in a diplomatic situation which might at 
any time issue in war. Meanwhile the national finances 
showed a deficit of six millions; Lord Beaconsfield's 
Government had increased warlike expenditure from 
twenty-five millions to thirty-two and a quarter millions 
a year ; the Revenue accounts betrayed gravely decreased 
spending power in the nation ; customs receipts had 
fallen by a million, excise by nearly two millions, and 
income tax by a quarter of a million. 

Socially, too, though the world of the great did not 
lack brilliant figures, the season of 1880 was overcast by 
the prevailing dullness, and was one which put to its record 
1 The Times, 23rd December 1880. 


no great event, " none of the accustomed star progresses 
of Shahs, Sultans and Emperors," * no great work of art, 
and no great novel ; for Beaeonsfield's Endymion, though 
its publication was an exciting event, did not, in a 
literary sense, redeem the year's reputation. Society 
was still adorned by Lord Houghton, and occasion- 
ally by Lord Beaconsfield and Bernal Osborne ; Sir 
William Harcourt and Sir George Trevelyan were at the 
height of their dinner-party fame, Mr Gladstone was 
" talking shop like a tenth Muse," and Lord Salisbury 
was sharpening conversation with his cynicism. This 
world was moreover in the very process of being widened, 
alike in its interests and its outlook, by that falling of 
barriers which, admitting first of all poetry in the persons 
of Tennyson and Browning, painting hi the persons of 
Leighton and Millais, and less defined artistic gifts in the 
fascinating and erratic Laurence Oliphant, was on the 
verge of something like surrender to the coruscations of 
Whistler and Oscar Wilde. The process was not yet 
complete, though it had advanced speedily, as anyone 
may see who compares Thackeray's Book of Snobs 
with Punch for 1880. The direct advance of the middle- 
class tide did not appear very great ; its real advance was 
by creeks and inlets. Sir Gorgius Midas, returning home 
late to find only six footmen awake to open the door to 
him, is as easy game for Punch as De Mogyns, with 
his flunkeys in peach-coloured liveries and pea-green 
plush breeches, had been to Thackeray. Frontal assault 
by huge wealth and bad breeding had not advanced far ; 
but in subordinate ways change was appearing. A genera- 
tion had come up in which not only were the sons of 
tradesmen sent to great public schools, but the tradesmen 
themselves had been there ; Punch could portray a 
duke dining with his tailor, and complaining of the fit of 
his trousers, to which the tailor replies that the duke, 
1 The Times, 3Oth July 1880. 


ever since he had been the tailor's fag at Eton, had been 
a whimperer. Then again, the old narrow circle of the 
well-born was growing bored with itself, and if a woman 
like Punch's Mrs Ponsonby de Tomkyns, a social 
climber, but a shrewd, decent, capable body, liked to give 
great parties, and angle desperately for guests, society 
had no objection to providing the guests. A certain 
awkward period of transition was past. The old days, 
hi which the great world had moved on an exalted stage 
its normal doings, its gambling, its passions canvassed by 
all the town had passed away, with its outward signs 
of rich dress, ornate vehicles and footmen on the board. 
In those days men of the great world made all kinds of 
excursions into other worlds spent nights in the London 
dancing gardens, hours in furtive cockfighting pits, were 
patrons of prizefighters, mingled in all the raffish under- 
life of jockeys, horse-copers, night-houses, and West End 
bars. They disported freely, because their world was 
unapproachably theirs ; and there were no means of un- 
locking its doors from outside. Since those days changing 
ideas, growth of immense middle-class wealth, had practi- 
cally made an end of the old " high life." It may, in fact, 
be said to have died with the sixties. There had followed 
a period in which society had still tried to oppose on- 
coming forces ; but it had had traitors within its camp. 
Men like Lord St Aldegonde in Lothair had begun 
applying ancient self-confidence in new ways. No one 
could ever really rival them ; so why should they, for the 
sake of separating themselves in appearances, be missing 
new openings for pleasure ? A fresh element had been 
introduced into national life by the development in the 
middle classes on the one hand of a new athleticism and 
on the other of an exquisiteness of their own. Society, 
looking over its barriers, saw that with its old-fashioned 
"lions of a season," its beards and moustaches of the 
Crimea, its exclusive traditions of sport, it was really 


engaged in things that were vieux jeu. By now, rowing 
had travelled far outside the universities, and the veriest 
Cockney could laugh at Ouida's dandy flinging away his 
cigar, leaping into an eight, and stroking it to victory. 
Lawn tennis, which has done more for the mental enfran- 
chisement of the middle class than has been recognised, 
was at the height of its first popularity in 1880 ; and 
Punch's title-page for the year shows the Four Seasons 
carrying racquets, with Toby tightening up a net. Cycling 
was making headway, football clubs were increasing 
rapidly. The very sneers which aristocracy aimed at 
these forms of athleticism show how completely the 
ordinary people were developing a world of their own ; 
and were able to forget recent days in which any pro- 
clivities towards sport involved for them either preten- 
tiousness, or the parasitic life of a "Mr Sponge." As for 
the new exquisiteness, society had waked to the spectacle 
of clean-shaven young men, and women in gowns with no 
waists but much embroidery, cultivating " intenseness " 
and " living beautifully." These were the new amuse- 
ments open to society. The set called " the Souls " came 
into being, brilliant figures like Mr Arthur Balfour and 
Lady Granby moving in languid grace, and acquiring " the 
Grecian Bend," neighboured by the Cimabue Browns, 
Postlethwaite, and Maudle of Punch. At this time 
Patience was presented to a delighted world ; and Gorgius 
Midas Junior complained that his millions brought him less 
deference in great houses than was shown to "some artist 
feller." Even a short list of those present at an evening 
party in 1881 includes the names of Mr Whistler and Mr 
Oscar Wilde with that of the Prince of Wales. 1 

Nevertheless in 1880 perhaps because there was so 

much to make the year a grave one the tone of the 

season seems to have been set, not by the new " intensity," 

but by the old seriousness of that " evangelising " group 

1 The Times, 4th June 1881. 


which was still so strong and occupied a position strange 
to modern eyes Lord Shaftesbury, Lord Harrowby, Lord 
and Lady Mount Temple, Lord Kinnaird, the Buxtons 
and Samuel Morley. 1 Mention of this group is a reminder 
that, even in the sphere of the Church, the year 1880 was 
one of gloom and embroilment. The tedious proceedings 
against ritualistic practices at St Alban's, Holborn, were 
still, after five years, dragging on ; the Rev. T. P. Dale 
was haled to prison in November for not complying with 
the requirements of the Court of Arches in regard to his 
church in the City ; and in the same month prosecutions 
were set on foot in respect to St Vedast's, London, 
Bordesley, and Miles Platting. The strength of the 
Evangelical party at this date was seen also in the appoint- 
ment of Dr Ryle in March to the vacant Deanery of 
Salisbury ; this choice of a notable parish priest and writer 
of tracts, for an office hitherto associated with scholarly 
and donnish rather than with pastoral distinction, being 
regarded as a striking departure from custom. It is a 
mere coincidence, though an interesting one, that in this 
year, in May, the Young Men's Christian Association 
purchased for 25,000 Exeter Hall, the very name of 
which had already become a synonym for Evangelicalism. 
Indeed the cursory eye regarding the appearances made 
by the Church in records of current events finds them 
hardly less out of humour than those of other national 
activities. Beyond the ritual question the only matter 
in which the Church bulked largely in the newspapers 
was in its resentment of the Burial Act ; in September 
the papers contained long controversies as to the power of 
parish clergy to charge increased fees to Nonconformists, 
to refuse the use of the church bells at Nonconformist 
funerals, and other such pettinesses. 

However, when we have recognised all the depression 
that existed, all the grounds for anxiety, and all the lack 
1 Lady St Heller's Memories of Fifty Years. 


of inspiration, it has to be said that the time was certainly 
not one of paralysis. At least two inventions of the fore- 
most importance made in this year their first advances 
in England, and made them with great rapidity. The 
year had hardly opened before it was announced that 
Mr Edison's " carbon electric lamp " had reached the 
stage of practical serviceableness the world had been 
awaiting. 1 At the end of February Dr Lyon Playfair 
had partially lighted his town house by electricity ; in 
April the new light was at work in Aldersgate Street 
Station, and in December thirty-four lights were installed 
at Paddington Station. But although this year first estab- 
lished electric lighting in England, and though its develop- 
ment was immediate, some years had to elapse before it 
became a really practical method of lighting. As yet 
every installation was an affair of a separate producing 
plant, with the result that, besides being too expensive 
for private houses except as a hobby, it was also too 
tiresome. Thus, when installed in Her Majesty's Theatre 
hi July it annoyed the audience by the persistent 
" thrumming " of the dynamo. Its other uses in this 
year were chiefly on the sea. An Orient liner, the Chim- 
borazo, was equipped with it in June, the lights used, 
though described as " incandescent," being not what were 
later called incandescent lamps, but arc lights of 70 c.p. 
The more significant development at the moment was 
the use of the light for naval purposes ; the potentialities 
of its high power were at once perceived, and by the middle 
of April two warships, the Minotaur and the Agincourt, 
had astounded the dwellers at Gibraltar by suddenly 
turning upon the Rock beams of a light hitherto unknown. 
The name of " searchlight " had yet to be invented, and 
the general opinion among the garrison officers was hardly 
favourable to the new invention ; it made, they thought, 
the ships themselves an excellent mark. 

1 The Times, 5th January 1880. 


The second invention, which equally found its develop- 
ment somewhat checked, though in a different way, was 
the telephone. It had already gained so much ground in 
England that in January 1880 there was talk of action by 
the Postmaster-General to restrain an enterprise which 
was likely to cut into the profits of the telegraph service. 
It was doubtful if he could establish his case that a 
telephone message was a kind of telegram, and therefore 
an infringement of monopoly ; but it seemed to be certain 
that he would make the attempt certain, indeed, that he 
could not afford to do otherwise. For at this time the 
telephone was expected to render telegrams as obsolete 
as the electric light would make gas ; there was not any 
idea of the extent to which the two earlier inventions 
would continue to exist alongside the two new ones. 
The Postmaster-General's action was entered, and came 
on late in November, the Attorney-General, on his behalf, 
suing the Edison Telephone Company. At the same time 
the Post Office Authorities could not fail to perceive that 
it was impossible to deprive the public of the new 
facilities ; if the telephone were a kind of telegraph then 
the public would have a right to demand a telephone 
service from the telegraph authorities. Consequently in 
December the Post Office was ordering 200,000 Gower- 
Bell telephones. Meanwhile a good deal of interest was 
being taken in the first working uses of the invention ; 
in April, for instance, lines were run from several chambers 
in the Temple to the Law Courts (then still at Westminster) 
and the Houses of Parliament, the wires being carried 
along the District Railway. In some other large towns 
the new idea had been more extensively taken up ; early 
in July there were cries of alarm about the danger and 
inconvenience of the network of overhead telephone wires 
in Liverpool and other places. 1 

The Post Office had real ground for anxiety in face of 
1 The Times, Qth July 1880. 


this invention. The State purchase of the telegraph 
system had just succeeded, after ten years, in proving 
itself a good bargain. The telegraph revenue for 1879 
had been 1,452,489, and the expenditure 1,111,547. 
But the demand for postal facilities was ever growing. 
A favourite scheme at this time was one of pneumatic 
despatch-boxes to be set up in the streets, whereby the 
public could shoot its telegrams into the post offices. 
Then there was a demand for a parcel post, transmitting 
small parcels " at uniform rates payable by adhesive 
stamps " ; and another demand was in process of being 
met by the Money Order Bill before Parliament this year. 
It is interesting to note that this last proposal had no small 
opposition to encounter. Several Chambers of Commerce, 
including so important a chamber as that of Manchester, 
lodged petitions against it on the ground that the issue 
of postal notes would damage certain private enterprises, 
like the Cheque Bank, which had hitherto supplied a 
form of easily negotiable paper money. Another point 
of interest a side-light on new commercial methods 
which we shall have to consider later was that some 
advocates of the demand for money orders argued 
that they would promote shopping with big firms, and 
give people in the country the chance to avail them- 
selves of the lower prices which the large stores then 
coming into existence were able, by the size of their 
dealings, to offer. In view of the ever-growing re- 
quirements of the public the Post Office may well 
have been disturbed by anything which threatened its 
one source of trading profit. It may be noted here, 
though it is not strictly a Post Office matter, that the 
" newly opened line of telegraph to South Africa " had 
begun working in January 1880. Its first important 
message conveyed the news of the arrest of the President 
of " the Committee of Boers in the Transvaal " which had 
been concentrating the local resentment of annexation 


a message ominous of the kind of work which was to fall 
on that cable in later years. 

An invention of a different kind, which in the end 
affected the spending powers and prosperity of the poorer 
classes in England to a degree not foreseen at the time, 
also reached in 1880 the point of practical working. It 
was announced on 3rd February that the steamship 
Slrathleven had arrived in London from Australia with 
70 bullock carcasses, 500 sheep carcasses, and two tons of 
butter. She had left Sydney and Melbourne in December 
and had arrived with the supplies in " perfectly sound 
condition." Now the importation of meat preserved by 
low temperatures was not a new thing. For some tune 
carcasses had been brought from America, but the cham- 
bers in which they had been conveyed were kept cool with 
blocks of ice. The system of chambers refrigerated by 
machines practically dates from 1880. 1 However, in spite 
of new methods of storage, the trade would not have de- 
veloped so rapidly as it did but for a curious and almost 
accidental circumstance. By enabling meat to be brought 
from Australia and New Zealand (distances over which 
ice-cooled chambers could not have been made to pay) 
refrigeration tapped an astoundingly cheap market. Till 
this time the great sheep-runs of those colonies had been 
worked on the wool-profits entirely ; the carcasses were 
regarded as practically worthless. Consequently when 
sheep carcasses first became, thanks to the new refrigera- 
tion, of marketable value, there was no difficulty in obtain- 
ing them cheaply enough to allow the importers to face 
a long period of prejudice and experiment. For some 
time the meat was criticised, and even abused ; the first 
shipment showed an adverse balance to the importers 
of 19 on the cargo, the beef having been sold at an average 
of 5d. a lb., and the mutton at an average of 5d. Never- 

1 Encyclopedia Britannica, article on Refrigerating, by T. B. 


theless in November an " Australian Fresh Meat Com- 
pany " was floated, with a capital of 300,000 ; and the 
keenness of the sheep-owner in the Antipodes for a source 
of profit hitherto undreamt of was at work to break down 
the prejudices of Smithfield Market, and to give the 
English workman more butcher's meat in a month than 
his fathers had in a year. 

[^Nor was it the workman only whose resources were 
enlarged. The daily menu of comparatively well-to-do 
families had been extremely limited. The occasion of a 
trade exhibition in Germany, at which a display of 
American " canned goods " was made, served The Times 
for a homily on the lack of variety in English catering. 
It wrote x : " No nation in the world has so narrow a 
code of clean articles of food as ours." Householders 
of moderate means rarely afforded fish, mutton was 
" suspected and avoided," poultry " lacked flavour and 
strength," and pork was " less acceptable above stairs 
than below." Vegetables, moreover, must have been a 
luxury in small houses. An indictment of the green- 
grocer's profits reveals the fact that the retail price of 
a cucumber in September 1880 was 10d., of a pound of 
runner beans, 6d., and of a cauliflower, 8d. Even so, 
the housekeepers had not complained ; the indictment 
came from the grower, who felt himself to be getting an 
inadequate share of the profit. 2 Dairy produce was 
hardly procurable at a more reasonable cost, fresh butter 
being normally at Is. 7d. a pound. It is probable, how- 
ever, that many town families felt this pinch less, since 
the Margarine Act was not yet in existence, and much 
must have passed for butter which was not butter at all. 
It was, for instance, noted as curious that, though oleo- 
margarine never had a price quoted in the market reports, 
and was not displayed in shop-windows, a lawsuit about 
patent royalties elicited the fact that the sale of this 
1 The Times, 22nd April 1880.- 2 Ditto, i8th September 1880. 


compound amounted to 98,000,000 Ibs. 1 But whatever 
may have been the facts about other foods the question 
of the meat supply was the only one formulated. The 
general supply had been restricted by severe Government 
prohibition imposed on the importation of live animals 
owing to fears of cattle disease 2 ; and drastic regulations 
as to the movement of live cattle from the Metropolitan 
Meat Market had caused real shortage of food in seaside 
places and country towns. 8 It was high time that a new 
traffic in dead meat should be established ; and it is not 
difficult to see that the security for a new venture lay in 
the middle-class demand. There is no mistaking the 
calibre of the letters on the subject to the newspapers. 
Certain persons complained of the toughness of the meat, 
its bad colour ; others wrote of the precise way to treat 
it, especially the necessity for long and slow thawing ; and 
hi their phrases describing the excellences of the meat when 
so treated, how it " cut firm and tender under the knife," 
" the quality of the gravy in the well," there is all the 
ponderous interest in eating, all the detailed affection for 
a joint, that Dickens portrayed hi his middle-class fathers. 
" Sweetness and light " had, as we have seen, affected 
the upper strata of the middle class with unhealthy 
violence in the shape of the aesthetic movement. It had 
led also to advances in education, which were in some 
respects slightly fevered, and ladies of very distinguished 
learning Dr Sophia Jex-Blake, Dr Garrett Anderson, 
Miss Lucy Harrison, for instance were becoming per- 
turbed by what they considered to be over-pressure in girls' 
schools. 4 There was sanity enough, however, in the way 
educational advances were affecting the business man's 
idea of his business ; and Matthew Arnold might have 

1 The Times, 28th April 1880. 

* Ditto, 20th July 1880, 

8 Ditto, 23rd May 1881. 

4 See, e.g.-, The Times, I5th April 1880: 


begun to feel he had not preached to deaf ears when Pro- 
fessor Huxley, speaking at the opening of Mason College, 
Birmingham, on 1st October, in this year, celebrated the 
passing of the day when the men and the methods of 
science were pooh-poohed by the men of business. On 
13th July the court of the new Victoria University held 
its first meeting, the characteristics of the University being, 
first, that for the attainment of its degrees it required 
attendance at prescribed courses of lectures, thus differing 
from the University of London ; and secondly, that it 
was designed to federate a number of colleges Man- 
chester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield. Akin to the spirit 
of these matters was the announcement, on 30th July, of 
the first instance of an offer which was to become in time 
a familiar, almost a national, institution. Mr Andrew 
Carnegie had written from New York to the Provost of 
Dunfermline, offering to present the town with a free 
library. It is not difficult, again, to trace the growing 
concern for reality in education in the deputation which 
waited upon the Board of Education in July from the 
Manchester Kindergarten Society, and other such societies, 
urging the adoption of kindergarten methods in element- 
ary schools. The Board, however, had too much other 
business on hand. It had not yet succeeded in perfecting 
its machinery. School Boards had had ten years of 
existence, but though they had done much they were still 
far from the ideal of provision^for every child. In London 
the total child population ofjschool age was reckoned in 
1880 at 740,377. The voluntary schools had accommoda- 
tion for 269,469, the Board Schools for 225,236, a total 
of 494,705. But the average attendance was as yet only 
873,701 just about half the juvenile population. 

The expansion of provincial university education is a 
subject which will confront us again later. It was one 
aspect of that growing^ civic' 'activity which, though it 
might be despised by the fastidious and the aesthetic 


as a mere exaltation of the material and the parochial, 
was a very genuine piece of middle-class self-assertion. 
Such cities as Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, and especi- 
ally Birmingham, had for some time before this history 
opens been developing their resources and enlarging the 
scope of the services they offered their citizens. Gas 
companies, water companies, tramway companies had 
been made aware that no monopoly would be allowed to 
remain in private hands ; the principle of ultimate right 
of purchase by the Corporation was well established. 
Yet, great as previous developments had been, the year 
1880 serves none the less well in this matter too as a 
fresh starting point. It witnessed the first successful 
flotation of Consolidated Municipal Stock ; and this was 
a very important departure, for hitherto the capital 
expenditure of corporations had had to be met by loans 
from the Public Works Loan Commissioners, from banks, 
insurance companies and private lenders. These arrange- 
ments involved varying rates of interest, from 5 per cent, 
to 3f per cent., the keeping of separate sinking funds, 
and separate approaches to Parliament or the Local 
Government Board for powers for new works. In the 
early seventies some corporations had adopted the idea 
of a Suspense Account, into which money borrowed at 
low rates was paid to be used for the liquidation of loans. 
Then arose the idea of a Corporation Debenture Stock, 
the Birmingham Finance Committee drawing up a scheme 
for such an issue in 1876, 1 and although the Local Govern- 
ment Board considered itself unable to sanction the pro- 
posal, an attempt was made in the following year to raise 
a million and a half of debenture stock. Prospectuses 
were published, but only 300,000 were subscribed, and 
the attempt failed. The first success in the venture was 
achieved by the Liverpool Corporation, which issued on 

1 For this subject I have drawn largely on Mr J. T : Bunco's 
History of the Corporation of Birmingham. 


1st September 1880 two millions of stock, under the 
Liverpool Loans Act. Sir W. B. Forwood, who had 
been chiefly responsible for the Act, told the Corporation 
that " it had been a difficult and intricate matter to get 
the Bill through, because the Liverpool Corporation were 
the first in the kingdom to obtain powers to fund their 
debt in the way proposed." l But Birmingham was close 
on Liverpool's heels with its second attempt. Instead of 
proceeding by a Loans Act, with all the cost of a private 
Bill, the Corporation applied to the Local Government 
Board for a provisional order to amend and partially 
repeal some local Acts and Orders, so as to enable the 
Corporation to issue a consolidated stock in which trustees 
who were empowered to invest in Government securities 
might invest. This method of procedure nearly wrecked 
the enterprise, for although the Board, after public 
inquiry, made the Order, the Bill confirming it was 
opposed by Lord Redesdale on the ground that the 
Board was exceeding its powers. However he finally 
withdrew his opposition on condition that the question 
of the Board's powers was raised in Parliament. The 
Bill passed. It had cost the Corporation only 70, and 
it would save thousands. The calculation in the case of 
Liverpool was that 25,000 or 30,000 a year would be 
saved by the raising of a large sum at a single, compara- 
tively low, rate of interest. What was more important 
from the public point of view was, first, that municipalities 
had discovered a new form of financial power in the 
exercise of which the Local Government debt of the United 
Kingdom rose to six hundred millions in 1910 ; and, 
secondly, that they had found a way of attracting the 
general investor, and had no longer to borrow, in the old 
sense of the word. 

The provision of a new field for investments could not 
have come at a better time than this. The possibilities 

1 The Times, 2nd September 1880; 


of the new field were not, however, fully perceived at the 
moment, and its opening did nothing to cure the special 
source of depression in this depressing year the state of 
the money market. The year, as it progressed, brought 
a revival of trade ; the signs were hopeful as early as 
February, and another summer of rain and flood could 
not disguise the fact that business was recovering. Yet 
revival brought with it a new uneasiness. The money 
market was not comfortable. Not only were Consols very 
high, but all good stocks were high with them. There 
had been for long, The Times remarked, 1 no war to cause 
new issues, no great economic changes, such as the inven- 
tion of railways, or extensive measures of colonisation. 
The general result was an accumulation of privately 
held capital which might, on a recovery of trade, be a 
temptation to the reckless floating of new enterprises, and 
consequent financial disturbance. Fears were expressed 
later on in the year that some of the new impulsion of 
business was really in the iron trade, for instance only 
speculative. Other conditions, besides prices and pro- 
duction, were affecting the market. It was never decided 
beyond question, even in all the discussions of the great 
period of bimetallism, precisely how the shortage of gold, 
which became so serious between 1880 and 1890, affected 
trade and industry. That it had some direct effect may be 
taken for granted, since otherwise the bimetallic theory 
would never have gained ground. One indirect effect is 
certain. The " tightness," so to speak, of the coinage, 
while producing a nominal lowering of prices, tended 
to keep wages from rising; and was thus responsible 
for some of the force which at this time the agitations of 
working people assumed. Masters of industry in every 
part of the country were nervous about the strikes that 
might be expected to accompany a revival of trade. 

Not that the working class agitations were entirely a 

1 29th July 1880. 


matter of wages. In one of the great industries, then as 
now the most highly organised on the side of the employees 
the cotton industry observers already thought they 
saw signs of a spirit which we shall find at its full activity 
later. As yet the idea was only expressed in a vague 
and obviously prejudiced form, The Times venturing the 
opinion, when labour troubles in Lancashire became 
serious in the autumn, that the real cause at the back of 
the agitation was not a matter of wages but " a struggle 
for mastery." 1 The opinion, though crudely expressed, 
was shrewd. The trade unions had attained to such 
numbers that they felt the day within sight when they 
should command practically all the working hands of the 
country. At the Trade Union Congress in September of 
this year the delegates represented an aggregate of 600,000 
members, the strongest unions being the miners, with 
50,000 members ; the engineers, with 45,000 ; the boiler- 
makers, with 20,000 ; and the railway workers, with 15,000. 
They were already strengthening themselves by alliance 
with the Co-operative Societies, a meeting between re- 
presentatives of the two movements taking place later 
in September. The wages question, arising more acutely 
from the shortage of gold coinage, was undoubtedly an 
immediate cause of strikes (the cotton trade dispute ended 
in December with the masters " risking " an advance in 
wages), but there was a predisposing cause of a more 
far-reaching nature. We shall have to record, under 1881, 
the foundation of the Social Democratic Federation in 
London. Whether or no it be true that the British work- 
ing man had been affected by contact with the refugees 
fleeing to England from the repressive measures taken in 
France after the Commune, and by Bismarck a few years 
later in Germany, it seems at least certain, as William 
Morris put it, 2 that " there was no longer, among the mass 

1 The Times, i8th September 1880. 

2 Mackail's Life of William Morris, ii. 81. 


of the working class in London, any decided hostility to 
Socialism." But whatever suspicions may have been 
growing of a spirit among workmen that was looking for 
more fundamental advances than in wages, nothing 
seems to have been less present to the minds of politicians 
in 1880, as they approached and passed through a General 
Election, than uneasiness about the conditions of the 
temper of the working man. Yet it is fair to add that the 
broadly determining influence in that election was such 
a revulsion of feeling in the direction of domestic and 
internal politics that the nation might well have looked 
forward to having its house drastically set in order. 



YET to speak of the General Election of 1880 as 
offering a prospect of national spring-cleaning is 
to give a positive description to what was mainly a 
negative movement. The distinction is necessary, because 
in the following five years the prevalence of a habit of 
confounding different matters under the common title of 
" Beaconsfieldism " was to lead the reforming party into 
disaster; dislike of the positions in which Beaconsfield 
had left Great Britain in various parts of the world was 
to become, in more than one case, a refusal to deal with 
those positions, hardly distinguishable from carelessness. 
The tone and pitch of this election were entirely set 
by Mr Gladstone ; the campaign which was to bring the 
Liberals triumphantly to power being really begun at the 
close of 1879. The events of 1878, the Russo-Turkish 
War, the subsequent inflaming of bellicose spirit in 
England, and the secret agreements with Russia and 
Turkey that accompanied the Berlin Conference had 
all touched Mr Gladstone in one of his tenderest spots : 
Turkey and her dependencies in Europe. He had used 
a phrase very significant of the line his thought was taking 
" the people want a little more experience of Beacons- 
field Toryism " * before the occurrence of two events 
which fitted exactly into his case. Affairs in South Africa, 
already made ticklish enough by the annexation of the 
Transvaal, were rendered more depressing by a campaign 
undertaken, as it seemed even to the Government, 

1 Morley's Life of Gladstone^ ii. 583. 
c 33 


somewhat wantonly against the Zulus. More serious still, 
the Ameer of Afghanistan having failed to accede to 
what the Government demanded of him by way of 
recognition of the weight of British influence in his affairs, 
war had been undertaken in Afghanistan also. 

To these developments, which wore to Mr Gladstone's 
mind the true Disraelian stamp of cynical disregard of 
righteousness, add the inevitable corollary of the burden 
on the national finances, and what more burningly in- 
spiring text could a man of Mr Gladstone's political 
tradition have found to his hand ? When the Liberal 
Committee of Mid-Lothian invited him in 1879 to contest 
that division, and he accepted the invitation, he was, by a 
sure political instinct, giving himself at once an inspiring 
audience and the stimulus of a difficult fight. He had 
declined in the previous year to stand again for Greenwich, 
his seat at that date ; he had remained unpersuaded by 
the offer of a safe seat in Edinburgh. The Mid-Lothian 
suggestion gave him the chance of striking the blow at his 
own time, and not at what time Lord Beaconsfield might 
choose to dissolve. Towards the end of November 1879 
he went into Scotland, and the next fortnight witnessed 
the historic " Mid-Lothian Campaign." In these days 
of far more widely spread newspaper reading, and the 
consequent organisation of reporting from outlying centres, 
it is necessary to remind ourselves of the violently out- 
standing methods of this campaign. Political platform- 
speaking then was restricted within limits generally 
recognised and accepted. Such speeches as were reported 
were placed under the rather odd heading " Parliament 
Out of Session," which by itself is enough to suggest that 
these efforts were regarded as mere aftermath. There was 
one other form in which they were recognised. It was 
tacitly admitted that the ordinary practice of members of 
the House in addressing themselves to their constituents 
once a year or so had in some instances an interest beyond 


the bounds of the constituency. Reports of the speeches 
of such men appeared under the heading : " The Member 
for Oxford," or " Westminster," or " Birmingham," a 
form of title which made even Mr Chamberlain's Radical 
pronouncements somewhat muffled. Nothing approach- 
ing the present mobility of notable speakers, or the fre- 
quent platform appearances of leading figures outside their 
own constituencies, existed in those days. In a general 
election such appearances were made, but not often. Mr 
Gladstone lived to deplore our modern fashion ; but his 
Mid-Lothian campaign was largely responsible for its 
origin. 1 

Further, it was not only the unusualness of such a series 
of speeches which roused the public mind ; it was also 
the fact that Mr Gladstone was making them. He 
had retired from the leadership of his party in 1874 ; 
he had even intimated that he did not intend to face 
another general election ; and here he was taking the 
field in a way so marked and so far out of the ordinary 
political course that the public could only draw one 
conclusion. Mr Gladstone himself never displayed his 
intellectual peculiarities more strikingly than in the 
absence of any such conclusion from his own mind ; for 
some months to come he spoke of the question of the 
leadership as out of his own hands, in a manner that must 
have been exasperating to less subtle-minded colleagues. 
The British public entertained no doubts. The crowds 
at the principal stations at which his train stopped on the 
way to Edinburgh, the enthusiasm in Scotland, and the 
reception of what Beaconsfield called " this drenching 
rhetoric," all meant one thing the ushering back of Mr 
Gladstone to leadership. 

Mr Gladstone's tone, then his choice of subjects during 
the Mid-Lothian campaign set the tone of the election. 
It was, in spite of its trumpet-call appearance, essentially 
1 See Saturday Review, 2gth November 1879^ 


negative. 1 The Government's foreign policy, the Govern- 
ment's bad finance and growing deficit, might, indeed, in 
Mid-Lothian speeches, be the text of the plea for righteous- 
ness among nations and a restoration of national resources ; 
but practically the appeal was only for that result which 
Mr Gladstone himself described after the triumph as " the 
downfall of Beaconsfieldism." 2 He might tell one of his 
audiences that " he had come down expressly to raise 
effectually before the people of the country the question 
in which manner they wished to be governed " 3 ; but in 
fact the General Election amounted to no more than asking 
whether they wished to be governed in the Beaconsfield 
way, or not. Sir William Harcourt, addressing a great 
meeting in January, devoted himself entirely to denouncing 
the Government for "recklessly pursuing an Asiatic 
policy " ; and a week later, in Birmingham, the heart then 
of Radicalism, devoted his speech to the evils of jingoism 
(still a new word) and the Afghan War. 

This was, obviously, the soundest fighting policy. And 
as no campaign can be purely negative, in the background 
of this one were certain promises of domestic legislation. 
Chief among them was a proposed equalisation of the 
county franchise with the borough franchise the charter 
of the agricultural labourer. There were also schemes for 
the establishment of representative County Government, 
amendment of the laws of land transfer and settlement, 
and a system of municipal government for London. It 
is plain from this list that the favourite phrase of economic 
writers of this time, " the era of administration has 
come," was influencing the politicians. Still it was the 
negative rather than any positive line of attack which 
kept perhaps alone could keep the Liberal leaders 

1 The Times, ist April, had a leader expressing concern lest the 
election should be taken by Continental nations as expressing com- 
plete repudiation of concern in European interests i 

1 Morley's Life of Gladstone, ii; 615. 

8 Ditto, ii 588; 


together. Lord Hartington, the leader of the party in 
the Commons, was very cool on the extension of the 
franchise ; Lord Granville, the chief, as an ex -Foreign 
Minister, was little interested in domestic affairs ; Har- 
court was already Mr Gladstone's staunch lieutenant, and 
had his faithful eye mainly on Turkey. The franchise 
question, in any case, was one with which the Tories had 
coquetted ; and though it may have carried some votes 
it can hardly have counted heavily. Beaconsfield, with 
his extraordinary prophetic gift, raised in his manifesto to 
the country in March 1880 the question of the government 
of Ireland, and sought to fasten upon the Liberals five years 
before its time the odium of a separatist policy. Ireland, 
however, was not as yet a real problem to English electors. 
Battle was joined on the ground Mr Gladstone had taken. 
Some surprise was felt at its coming when it did. The 
Mid-Lothian campaign had lighted such a flare that men 
expected Beaconsfield to wait for some chance of damping 
it, even if slightly, before a dissolution of Parliament. 
The dissolution was announced on 6th March ; and the 
accepted explanation of that early date is that Beacons- 
field was misled into a false estimate of the feeling of the 
country by the results of two bye-elections, in February, 
at Liverpool and in Southwark. In both the Liberal 
candidate had been beaten, and Southwark moreover was 
a seat gained to the Tories. It seems possible, however, 
in view of the fact that Beaconsfield's manifesto attempted 
to divert the minds of the electors to the Irish question, 
that what influenced him was not so much the mere 
return of Tories for these seats as the fact that in Liverpool 
the Home Rule cry had been employed in the fight. The 
Irish had made the Liberal candidate commit himself to 
a promise to vote for " an inquiry into the nature and 
extent of the Irish demand for self-government." l A 
storm had been raised at the bare possibility of treating 
1 The Times, 5th February 1880. 


Home Rule as a valid question. Lord Hartington, 
moreover, had taken the line that it was a matter for the 
individual decision of members ; and this indication of 
uncertainty in the Liberal ranks may have appealed to 
Beaconsfield as a useful opening for driving in his wedge. 
Unfortunately for him this occurrence of the Home Rule 
demand was an isolated case. The brief month during 
which Parliament sat, from 6th February to 6th March, 
had not been long enough to give the Irish members the 
chance for which, under Parnell, they were ready ; and 
the strategy Beaconsfield attempted proved impractic- 
able. The elections went heavily against him. On the 
first day's results, on 31st March, the Liberals had a net 
gain of 15 seats in 69 constituencies ; by the end of the 
second week of the election their net gains stood at 
99 ; and finally the new Parliament showed itself com- 
posed of 347 Liberals, 240 Conservatives and 65 Irish 

Mr Gladstone's own election was, as his speech-making 
had been, the centre of importance. The interest taken 
in it gives us a sidelight on what must have been the last 
of old electoral methods a survival due to the absence 
of reform from the county franchise. One of the first 
points that occurred to him in taking up the candidature 
for Mid-Lothian was the matter of " faggot " votes. The 
qualification in those days for the county franchise was 
the possession of a 40s. freehold, or a 10 copyhold, or 
a 50 leasehold, or an occupation valued at 12. It 
was not difficult, with sufficient money at command, to 
manufacture these votes ; and Mr Gladstone, franchise 
reformer though he was, was too old a hand to be a 
purist ; he had fought his first election before the Reform 
Bill. So now the answer to Conservative faggotting was 
Liberal faggotting ; and The Times of 27th January 1880 
contains a curious and interesting article on the running-up 
of houses in Edinburgh, but just over the county border, 


to give one hundred and sixty new owner and occupier 
votes on the Liberal side. The work went on night and 
day, and men stood at dusk in the light of the flares 
cheering for Gladstone. His majority at the declaration 
of the poll on 5th April was two hundred and nine- 

Another feature of the election, though not one that 
was prominent in the newspapers, was that new ideas in 
party organisation were on trial on the Liberal side. In 
this, rather than in his legislative projects, is to be found 
the basis of the dislike and fear of Mr Chamberlain as 
a demagogue. A generation more accustomed than our 
own to exalt a classical education used its words nicely, 
and " demagogue " to it meant less the producer of 
measures appealing to the masses than a man who 
organised the masses. Judged merely by his legislative 
proposals Mr Chamberlain showed no terrifying face. The 
Employers Liability Bill, of which he was in charge as 
President of the Board of Trade, was, after all, very much 
a corollary of the Factory Acts ; and for the rest Mr 
Chamberlain's own programme, as announced by him at 
Birmingham in October of that year, was devoted to such 
eminently middle-class questions as the reform of railway 
rates for goods traffic, of the bankruptcy laws, and of the 
patent laws. But his organising schemes were a different 
matter. In 1877 he had inaugurated a new means of 
handling electoral forces. Hitherto the choice of candi- 
dates and the management of electoral affairs had been in 
the hands of local committees, who corresponded, when 
necessary, with the party whips, but were essentially 
independent. Mr Chamberlain aimed at making organisa- 
tion more democratic and more co-ordinated. The local 
associations were to be much larger, and to be popularly 
elected ; and, secondly, they were to be federated under 
a central organisation which would give general orders, 
provide candidates, have a sanctioning voice in any local 


choice of candidates, issue literature, and wield an army 
of speakers. This was perhaps the first matter in which 
his future Cabinet colleagues felt Mr Chamberlain's 
determination and force. He invited Lord Hartington 
to become the nominal head of the new system. Lord 
Hartington did not much take to it, and declined. 1 Mr 
Chamberlain went on his way, with a warning to his 
leader that he could not afford not to be associated 
with it. By 1880 the idea was so well advanced that 
after the election the " new democratic machinery " be- 
came a subject for letters to the newspapers from the 
more timid Liberals and the more bitterly disappointed 
Conservatives. One of the effects most dreaded was 
the enhanced power which such organisation might 
give to wealth in an election. Party funds would, 
it was thought, unduly turn the day, when they acted 
through a highly drilled system. 

Lord Beaconsfield resigned on 21st April. The processes 
by which Mr Gladstone returned in actuality to that leader- 
ship which, in everyone's opinion but his own, he had 
assumed five months earlier, need not be set forth. 
They have been given to the world in the words of those 
who were concerned in them. 2 It is sufficient to say here 
that Lord Granville and Lord Hartington were so im- 
movably agreed upon the impossibility of carrying on a 
Government without Mr Gladstone, and the equal im- 
possibility of his occupying any but the chief place in a 
Government, that Queen Victoria had to give way. Mr 
Gladstone's Government 3 met the new Parliament on 
20th May 1880. 

It was a meeting full of enthusiasm, full of hope and 
almost tragic to look back upon now. So fine a career 

1 Holland's Life of the Duke of Devonshire, \. 244-249. 

'See Morley's Life of Gladstone, ii. 620-628; Holland's Life 
of the Duke of Devonshire, i. 273-293 ; Fitzmaurice's Life of Lord 

3 See Appendix. 


seemed to open before a Government with a majority 
clear of the Irish vote, pledged to end the policy which 
distracted politics with foreign adventure, and headed 
by a man who was a popular idol. Yet at the very 
threshold the new House met with a difficulty which, 
wasting its time, exasperating its temper, and dislocating 
its procedure, was typical of the barren wrangling in 
which the new forces were to expend themselves like 
a river trailing amid a waste of sand. Before it 
came to work, the House was suddenly divided by 
the question whether one of the new members for 
Northampton, Mr Charles Bradlaugh, who had, as an 
avowed atheist, declined to take the oath, could be 
allowed to take his seat. Mr Bradlaugh then professed 
himself ready to take the oath; but it was easy to 
rouse the House against the cynicism of such an attitude. 
The prolonged controversy which followed continued 
debates in the House, discussions in the press, proceed- 
ings in the law courts, to which Mr Bradlaugh took 
the question of his rights may in one respect be passed 
rapidly over. In this parliament he never sat. So 
curiously was the House cut asunder by this unforeseen 
problem that even when, in 1883, an Affirmation Bill, 
designed to relieve the difficulty, had the eloquent sup- 
port of Mr Gladstone, it was thrown out by a majority 
of three. Removed more than once from the House by 
physical force, Mr Bradlaugh turned to great meetings in 
public halls and in the parks of London to try to break 
down the opposition that had such bewildering obstinacy. 
It was not until eight years later that he may be said to 
have won the case of principle, and eleven years later the 
personal case. In 1885 he was allowed to take the oath 
without any comment. But this silent passing-over of 
the tempest naturally did not satisfy him. In 1888 he 
secured the passing of an Affirmation Act, and in 1891, 
when he was on his death-bed, the resolution of 1881, 


by which the House had finally asserted itself in the 
original controversy, was expunged from the records. 
But though the facts should be stated as briefly as possible, 
their significance must not be missed. In the House 
itself the most striking feature of the controversy was 
that it revealed the existence of a group on the Tory 
side which was to attain much notoriety during the 
life of this Parliament. For the first time members 
saw the co-operation between Lord Randolph Churchill, 
Mr Arthur Balfour, Sir John Gorst and Sir Henry 
Drummond -Wolff which earned them the name of " The 
Fourth Party." Dissatisfied with the leadership of 
Sir Stafford Northcote, who seemed to them dull and 
slow in action, formal in his methods, a slave to the 
conventions of politics, this group were as ready to 
scoff at their own Front Bench as to attack the other 
Front Bench. The formalities of Opposition would not 
have admitted the seizing of the opportunity offered 
by the case of Mr Bradlaugh ; it exactly suited Lord 
Randolph's purposes. The existence of the Fourth 
Party affected the Government seriously throughout 
its career. The attacks of clever men, who had none 
of the traditions of holding office, had always to be 
met after the official answer on any question had been 
given to the Opposition leaders, and accepted by them 
in the official spirit which, as ex-Ministers, they were 
ready to display. Moreover, as was very soon noticed, 
Lord Randolph Churchill had a peculiar gift for 
" drawing " Mr Gladstone. The position which the 
Fourth Party attained was due not only to the scan- 
dalous notoriety attaching to a revolt against con- 
stituted leaders, but to the fact that Mr Gladstone's 
colleagues could never induce him to treat the group 
as irresponsible interlopers. However, the taste of their 
quality was a comparatively minor aspect of the Brad- 
laugh controversy. That had also a deeper significance. 


It is true that the persistence of the House was largely 
due to the mere tactical value to the Opposition of a 
question in which the Government could not command 
its majority. Sir Stafford Northcote refused in 1881 
overtures made to him by the Speaker with a view 
to reaching the solution of silence that was accepted 
in 1885. But it is beyond doubt that at the time that 
solution would only have left open the door of bitterness. 
We have to face the spectacle of a House, not without the 
approval of a very great part of the country, quite assum- 
ing its right to demand some form of religious conviction 
in a member ; the spectacle, moreover, of intelligent men 
convinced that to be an atheist was to be morally un- 
trustworthy, that to deny the existence of God was worse 
than " that form of opinion which would teach us that, 
whatever may be beyond the visible things of this world, 
whatever may be beyond this short span of life, you know 
and you can know nothing of it, and that it is a bootless 
undertaking to attempt to establish relations with it." 1 
Perhaps after all the Bradlaugh controversy did no less 
in the end for genuine religious conviction than for the 
freedom of those who have no such conviction. It was 
one of the occasional shocks which force the pace of the 
whole-hearted in either direction. 

But at the moment the effect of the controversy was 
one of barrenness and discouragement. The Radicals 
in the country perceived their great majority already 
" jockeyed." The position of Mr Bradlaugh himself can 
now be disentangled from the discussions, and estimated 
at its worth. The deep bewilderment of the moment arose 
from the almost diabolical cleverness with which the 
question was twisted in the House to a problem of religious 
liberty. The Times saw what had happened ; "Mr 
Bradlaugh, admitted to the House, will be of just whatever 
account the House pleases. But Mr Bradlaugh and 
1 Mr Gladstone on the Affirmation Bill, 26th April 1883. 


religious liberty together are not thus easily to be dealt 
with." * This was the first baiting of a Government which 
was to pass so much of its time with its head down to at- 
tacks in the House that it could rarely get a real outlook. 
In no matter was this lack of outlook more disastrous 
than in the question of the Transvaal. In alarm at the 
danger involved by the Boers' apparent inability to cope 
with native attacks in 1877 the danger that native 
successes against them might light an appalling con- 
flagration Sir Theophilus Shepstone had formally placed 
the Transvaal under British sovereignty. He had ex- 
ceeded his instructions, which gave him no authority to 
proclaim annexation except on assurances that the step 
was in consonance with the wishes of the majority of the 
Boers. It was immediately made apparent that practic- 
ally the whole Boer community was against it ; yet the 
Conservative Government held to the annexation. Mr 
Gladstone expatiated on the wickedness of this in his 
Mid-Lothian denunciations ; even Lord Hartington as- 
serted that annexation in those circumstances could not 
be maintained ; and public opinion must have been in 
some degree represented by The Times which wrote 2 : 
" We have to consider the welfare of the whole of 
the South African colonies, as well as the interests of 
the inhabitants of the Transvaal, and neither of these 
can be weighed in the balance against a mere reluctance 
to abandon a policy which was justified at one time 
by circumstances which have now passed away. . . . 
Englishmen will find it difficult to reconcile themselves 
to the forcible occupation of a country whose people de- 
clare that they have never been and do not wish to be 
her Majesty's subjects." The question was forced upon 
the Liberal Government's attention publicly in May by a 
memorial demanding the recall of Sir Bartle Frere, who 

1 Leading article, 29th June 18801 

2 Ditto, 1 7th January 1880. 


was identified with the policy of annexation. The sum 
of the Government's action in the matter during this year 
is that two months later Sir Bartle Frere was recalled ; 
but the annexation was not cancelled. What does this 
contradictory conclusion mean ? By itself it is astonish- 
ing ; but taken in connection with those affairs in Egypt 
which will confront us later it appears susceptible of 
explanation. It may be thrown out here as a suggestion, 
to be supported hereafter, that this Cabinet more than 
once undertook the more difficult, in preference to the 
point-blank, solution of a problem ; and then had not time 
or sufficient freedom from immediate worries to carry out 
adequately the task it had set itself. The Cabinet cer- 
tainly undertook a complicated solution of the Transvaal 
difficulty, the reasons for which may perhaps be sought 
in the Prime Minister's character. Mr Gladstone in 
Mid-Lothian might thunder flat opposition to certain acts 
of state, to certain lines of policy ; Mr Gladstone in 
office felt the habit of office close round him, a habit in 
which there are no violent and fundamental reversals. 
It may also have been, as matters turned out, somewhat 
unfortunate that the Turkish difficulty to the almost 
laughable surprise and glee of Mr Gladstone collapsed 
instantly on a tentative application of precisely the kind 
of pressure that Beaconsfield might have used ; Mr Glad- 
stone was capable of being attracted by the prospect of 
showing his great rival that mere reversals of policy were 
not the only way of governing better than he. At all 
events, it is certain that the reversal of the annexation 
was set aside in favour of a complicated series of moves 
whereby, federation having been first established in South 
Africa, local independence should follow ; and the Boers 
be thus ultimately satisfied. 1 The federation schemes 
failed ; Frere, whose retention in South Africa was for 
some weeks justified largely on the ground of his associa- 

1 Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii, 30; 


tion with the federation plans, was recalled. The com- 
plicated moves crumbled at the first stage. To judge by 
the later analogy of Egypt, it would appear safe to assert 
that Mr Gladstone's interest was diverted, and the matter 
was all disastrously left drifting. 

What was the diversion of interest ? For one thing, 
Mr Gladstone was extraordinarily one might say, for 
a Prime Minister, almost deplorably interested in the 
daily proceedings of the House. 1 It was not a great ses- 
sion, but it bore some fruit : the first Employers Liability 
Act, establishing a system of compensation to workmen 
for injuries inflicted by defects in works, or machinery 
plant, or stock connected with the business, or by default 
of fellow-servants having superintendence or direction ; 
the change of the Malt Tax into a Beer Duty, effected in 
the Budget; the Burial Bill, establishing the right of 
Nonconformists to inter their dead with the services of 
their own sect in parish churchyards. Another measure, 
introduced in this year, both gave the Prime Minister 
trouble in the Cabinet and, being ultimately rejected by 
the Lords, brought on, after the session had closed, the 
first acute stage of that Irish struggle which in the next 
few years was so to drain the energies of both the Govern- 
ment and the House of Commons. This was the Com- 
pensation for Disturbance Bill. Mr Gladstone had 
passed an Act in 1870 to meet the case of hardships suffered 
by tenants in Ireland who, on being turned out of their 
holdings, received no allowance for improvements they 
had made. But the Act had never worked well ; there 
was no provision in it for valuing the improvements, and 
no provision that the rent should be a fair one, and it did 
not apply in cases in which the tenant owed as much as 
a year's rent. The case for an improved Act was streng- 
thened by the bad harvests of 1878 and, especially, 1879, 2 

1 Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 7, 8. 
*Cf. supra, p. 15; 


and the new Bill entitled the tenant to compensation if 
he could prove to the court (1) that he was unable to pay 
the rent ; (2) that this was not from pure thriftlessness 
or idleness, but from the bad harvest of the current year, 
or of two preceding years ; (3) that he was willing to 
continue his tenancy on just and reasonable terms as to 
rent and otherwise ; (4) that these terms were unreason- 
ably refused by the landlord. 

There were not a few in the House of Commons 
who during the passage of this Bill perceived a warn- 
ing in the person of a certain silent man. The new 
Parliament saw at the head of the Irish party a new 
leader, Charles Stewart Parnell. The House had some 
knowledge of his fighting power, and some reason to 
be disturbed by his accession to leadership. In the 
previous Parliament a profound change had come over 
the behaviour of the Irish party. Under Isaac Butt's 
leadership the Irish had for years pursued the patient 
course of introducing measures on Ireland's behalf and 
seeing them set by. They produced Bills for some form 
of Home Rule year after year, and were told : " Parlia- 
ment will not, cannot grant Home Rule. The utmost 
favour which the House of Commons can show to its 
advocates is to listen to them with patience and courtesy 
once a year." 3 When the prevailing mind of important 
people in England could be stated in that form, something 
was bound to happen. Biggar and Parnell happened. 
When the latter entered the House in 1875 the former had 
already discovered the principle of obstruction ; the new 
recruit, practically ignorant of politics 2 but full of hatred 
of England's attitude towards Ireland, swiftly seized the 
rudiments of the new methods, and there followed those 
famous all-night sittings in which four or five Irish 
members held up the whole business of the House by 

1 The Times, 2oth April 1877: 

2 Barry O'Brien's Life of Parnell. 


incessantly moving that progress be reported, or that the 
chairman leave the chair. But when the new Parliament 
met, there was in the minds of those who had eyes to see 
much more than the fear of mere repetition of these scenes, 
which in the old Parliament the leader of the party had 
disliked and disavowed. The fact that Butt had now ceased 
to be the leader was more than a menace to Parliamentary 
order. Hitherto Irish agitation had had two wholly 
separate currents. The Parliamentary agitation was a 
steady-going plea for self-government on a federal basis. 
The absolute separatist agitation, working through the 
Fenian methods, was carried on by the Clan-na-Gael 
in America and the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 
Ireland, Michael Davitt being the chief link between the 
two. 1 The leaders of this agitation wholly despised and 
repudiated the Parliamentary party. Now between the 
appearance of obstructive tactics in the House and the 
meeting of the new Parliament these two currents had 
ceased to be disconnected. That it is necessary to use 
so indefinite an expression is a tribute to the extreme 
strategic skill of which Parnell was master. All the 
enmity he aroused in England, all the watchfulness to 
catch him tripping, never succeeded in proving that he 
was a Fenian, or that Irish Nationalism and Fenianism 
were now one ; and yet it was patent that they were no 
longer two. In December 1877 Michael Davitt had been 
released from prison on ticket-of-leave from the end of the 
sentence passed upon him for complicity in the Fenian 
outrages of 1867. Parnell met him in Dublin in January 
1878. By that time the Clan-na-Gael had marked the rise 
and the effectiveness of the new spirit in the Irish Parlia- 
mentary party, to which Mr Barry O'Brien bears testi- 
mony : " ' Had Davitt come to America in the beginning 
of 1877,' said a member of the Clan-na-Gael to me, ' he 
would have found a few men ready to discuss the new 
1 Parnell Commissioners' Report, p. 30. 


departure and to favour it. But "neither he nor we would 
have dared broach it at a public meeting of the League.' 
But a change had taken place in a twelvemonth. Parnell's 
action in Parliament had made people think that some- 
thing might be done with Parliamentarianism after all." * 
Davitt went to America after that change, in August 
1878. Moreover he went with a plan which provided a 
channel whereby the two currents of agitation might 
communicate. He had already devised the Land 

We shall miss the strength of this move if we do 
not recognise that the land question in Ireland was, 
if not actually different, susceptible of being made 
very different from any such question in England. In 
England land nationalisation is a political ideal on exactly 
the same footing as other political ideals. In Ireland the 
possession of land by the landlords could be represented 
as a form of English garrisoning. Parnell more than once 
spoke of the destruction of English landlordism as the 
key to Home Rule. The landlords were indeed for the 
most part English, and their relations with their tenants 
had in general none of that idealism which even at the 
worst has never been absent from these relations in 
England. Too often the landlord's attitude suggested 
that the Irish lived on a conquered land, and had no 
rights save such as the landlord chose to allow. This 
had been so obvious that there had been sufficient strength 
of feeling in England to carry more than one Land Act. 
" The landlord," wrote a chief secretary in the middle of 
last century, " had a monopoly of .the means of existence. 
... ' The landlords in Ireland,' said Lord Donough- 
more in 1854, ' have been in the habit of letting land, not 
farms.' " 2 These words sum up the problems of Irish 
land tenure exorbitant rents, and eviction without 

1 Barry O'Brien's Life of Parnell, i. 165. 

2 Thomas Drummond's Life and Letters 


compensation. Therefore the land agitation could be 
intimately associated with Home Rule ; a subject 
and this was the brilliant point of the conception 
which the Clan-na-Gael could approach from one side, 
and the Parliamentary party from another, meeting no 
doubt in the middle, but never marching to it along 
the same line. The conception had immediate success. 
While Davitt was in America in 1878 a telegram was 
sent to Parnell offering the support of the Clan-na-Gael 
for the Parliamentary party on the conditions : (a) of 
the party's abandoning Butt's federal proposals and 
making a general declaration for self-government ; (b) of 
the party's agitating the land question on a peasant 
proprietary basis, while accepting concessions tending 
to abolish arbitrary eviction; (c) of the party's voting 
together on all questions, adopting an aggressive policy, 
and energetically resisting coercive legislation. 1 Was 
not such a proposal, it may be asked, a complete con- 
junction of the two currents of agitation ? It might have 
been but Parnell never answered the telegram. It was 
the first occasion on which his famous gift of silence came 
into play. He did not accept the Clan-na-Gael 's offer 
overtly. But on 7th June 1879 he appeared on a platform 
in Ireland with members of the Land League, which 
Davitt had founded at a meeting at Irishtown on 20th 
April, and on 21st October 1879 he was at the Dublin 
Conference at which the League was organised finally into 
the National Land League. Its main working clause set 
up an organisation among tenant farmers for defending 
those who might be threatened with eviction, for facili- 
tating the working of the Land Act of 1870, and for 
obtaining such reform as would enable the tenant to 
become owner of the land by paying a fair rent for a 
limited number of years. Parnell was at first reluctant 
to accept the scheme ; he saw, much as he disliked the 
1 Parnell Commissioners' Report, p. g. 


purely constitutional spirit of Isaac Butt, that the party's 
effectiveness in Parliament depended in no small degree 
upon not coming into contact with the law. But he 
decided that he must " take the risk," * and it is a point 
of some importance that the Land League constitu- 
tion contained no demand for the self-government of 
Ireland. That made it merely a weapon, and not, so 
to speak, a different impersonation of the Parliamentary 
party. The last point for this brief summary is that 
Parnell himself went to America in December 1879, and 
was hurriedly recalled for the General Election of 

When the new Parliament met, there must therefore 
have been every ground for regarding the Irish party, 
thirty-five members of which were pledged Parnellites, 
with new apprehension. Yet it may be doubted whether 
actual apprehension was felt. The intervention of the 
Home Rule question in the Liverpool bye-election had, 
as we have said, been without any parallel in the General 
Election. Liberals had beaten Home Rulers in some 
Irish constituencies Dundalk, Athlone, and Mallow, for 
instance. One cause of possible discomfort, which had 
been foreseen, was avoided by the fact that the Liberal 
majority did not depend upon the Irish ; and no un- 
easiness was shown in the summary statement that " the 
Government may even approach once more the question 
of Irish university education; and it will certainly be 
expected to deal effectively in some way with the present 
condition of Ireland." 2 The serene reliance of the 
Ministerial party on Mr Gladstone's confidence in his own 
mission floated the Compensation for Disturbance Bill 
successfully through the House, and there were none but 
momentary qualms in face of Parnell's silence. That 
silence was obstinate. He was ready to see what the 

1 Parnell Commissioners' Report, p. 15. 

1 The- Times, leading article, I7th April 1880. 


new Government would do, but he would take no single 
step towards it. He would not answer the Clan-na- 
Gael's telegram, but he would equally not answer any 
signals from the English. He took practically no part in 
the proceedings on the Bill. It was thrown out, as has 
been recorded, by the House of Lords. Then the new 
force for which Parnell stood revealed itself. Nothing 
could have done more to strengthen the new Land League 
than this event. The League was instantly at work in 
every case that offered it a foothold. Rents were refused 
above the " valued rent " scale, any man who paid more 
was banned. Every farm where there had been an 
eviction became a centre of activity, and any man who 
took such a farm, or did anything for the landlord or the 
agent concerned, was banned. On 15th September 1880 
Lord Mountmorres was murdered near Clonbar. A week 
later an agent whose name came afterwards to stand for 
the campaign, Captain Boycott was put under the ban. 
The police could get no information, and the banning of 
men was accompanied by the shooting of those who held 
on their way in spite of the League, by the maiming of 
cattle placed on evicted farms, and by all sorts of minor 
violences. Parnell and Biggar denounced all violent 
action, and the Parnell Commission, examining later 
all the evidence that was brought by Parnell 's most 
convinced and determined opponents, had to conclude 
that these denunciations were not insincere. 1 The other 
current of agitation was operating, and the figures of cases 
of agrarian crime rose from 863 in 1879 to 2589 in 1880, 
although the acute agitation had not begun until Sep- 
tember in the latter year ; evictions rose from 6239 in 
1879 to 10,457 in 1880. The figures of crime for separate 
months in 1880 show that from 67 in May the cases rose 
to 165 in September, 269 in October, 559 in November, 
and 865 in December. The crimes thus scheduled were 
1 Parnell Commissioners' Report, p. 76. 


chiefly those of sending threatening letters, killing or 
maiming cattle, arson, firing into houses or at the 
person, and murder. 1 

In face of this onrush of events the first thought of 
the executive in Dublin was one of regret that the new 
Government had allowed the Coercion Act of the late 
Government to lapse. Lord Cowper, the Viceroy, and 
Mr Forster, the Chief Secretary, were insistent with the 
Cabinet to promise renewal of the Act, and all through the 
later months of the year were threatening resignation 
unless the Habeas Corpus Act were suspended. Mean- 
while Lord Cowper was urging that the Land League 
should be treated as an illegal conspiracy and its leading 
members arrested. Mr Gladstone, who had already lost 
the Duke of Argyll from his Cabinet, and Lord Lansdowne 
from a minor place in his Government, over the Com- 
pensation Bill, and who knew that Lord Hartington had 
never liked it, was not disposed to see much reason at the 
moment to be at the pains of dissociating the Irish party 
from these disturbances. He announced at the Guildhall 
banquet on 9th November that the Government would 
stipulate that order must be restored in Ireland before 
grievances could be considered, returning thus to the old 
over-logical position that England cherished. A week 
earlier, with dramatic effect, the Government in Ireland 
had arrested five Irish members, Parnell, Biggar, Dillon, 
Sullivan and Sexton ; and nine other Land Leaguers, 
including Patrick Egan and Brennan. So the year ended 
with the Government deeply into the first of its quagmires. 
1 These figures are taken from the Parnell Commissioners' Report; 



IN reviewing the events of 1880 there was occasion to 
make allowance for a general depression. In 1881 it is 
possible to trace, as a prevailing influence, a tendency 
towards " common-sense " views, which may be the natural 
British reaction from a period of self-pity. 

The return to sturdiness arose primarily from a revival 
of trade. The railways gave the first distinct note of the 
improvement, the half-yearly dividends declared in 
February being much better than had been anticipated. 
The favouring conditions recorded were " lowness of wages 
and prices coupled with a good steady trade." * Sheffield's 
exports to America had in the previous year risen to over a 
million pounds in value ; and there seemed to be no serious 
prospect of strikes to disturb output. The year 1881 was, 
in fact, fairly free of such troubles. Strikes occurred in 
the month of June among the colliers in some districts, 
the blast-furnace men and the nail-makers ; but, though 
30,000 men were out in the last case, the only real menace 
came from the colliers ; and as they were conferring on 
the extension to all districts of the sliding scale, already at 
work in the northern districts, Staffordshire and York- 
shire, there was no great alarm. The general confidence 
must have been well restored ; for the early part of 1881 
saw that large call for capital which the financial experts 
had been foretelling in 1880. In the first three months 
of 1881 about a hundred companies were floated, and the 
capital asked for was thirty-three and a quarter millions 
1 The Times, 8th February 1881. 


1881] COMMON SENSE 55 

sterling. Two millions of this were in Birmingham Cor- 
poration 3$ per cent. Stock ; and the changed conditions 
since that corporation's last attempt 1 were sufficiently 
indicated by the subscription of the whole amount at an 
average of 98. 2s. Id. 2 Over twelve millions were in 
railway issues of preference stock, bonds and debentures. 
But it is evident that the City believed the public to be in 
a mood now for more than solid disposal of savings, for 
the remaining nineteen millions were asked for in more 
speculative ventures. Still the timidity of the orthodox 
observer of the money market remained very great. The 
Times, for instance, considered that only about six millions 
of real capital were called for beyond the corporation and 
railway issues. The Stock Exchange was not as yet a 
normal field for middle-class savings, which were " as a 
rule invested as they are made in houses or land, new 
plant, increase of stocks, etc." 3 In accordance with this 
state of things we find the stock and share list of the chief 
daily papers at this time no more than a column long 
a typical instance showing, besides home and foreign 
Government securities, twenty-four mining companies, 
twenty-six Colonial securities, eighteen industrial com- 
panies, twelve tram companies, five gas companies, three 
shipping companies, and one land company. Even this 
moderate compilation was not regarded as quite healthy. 
Seventeen gold-mining companies appeared among these 
early prospectuses of the year, and a month or two later 
The Times was commenting on the " inundation of gold- 
mining companies since 1879." 4 To modern eyes it hardly 
looks like an inundation : the total capital of all the com- 
panies amounted to only three millions, and of those floated 
in the year now under discussion only two asked for as 

1 Cf. p. 28. 

* Bunce's History of the Corporation of Birmingham, ii; 34. 
8 The Times, 4th April i88i; 

* Leading article, 5th May. 

56 COMMON SENSE [1881 

much as a quarter of a million; the majority were 
floated at from 50,000 to 80,000. It is curious and 
interesting to follow in these years all the effects 
of the shortage of gold, all the complicated projects for 
meeting the shortage, all the puny efforts to increase the 
supply, knowing, as we do now know, what an immense 
source was all the time awaiting exploitation in South 
Africa. Both from the political and the financial point 
of view it should be borne in mind, in reading of the events 
of the succeeding three years, that the British public as 
yet. knew practically nothing of the mineral wealth of the 
Transvaal ; and the world of high politics and high finance, 
some members of which must have had the information, 
did not believe in it. The public knew no more than the 
occasional rumours of a nugget having been found here 
and there " a fine little nugget from the north side of the 
Tugela," or " undoubtedly payable gold in the Lydenburg 
district " and the rumours were generally accompanied 
by a warning that opinion in Pretoria was very wild, and 
that there was nothing to warrant a gold " rush." In 
fact, similar rumours from the head waters of the River 
Yukon, in Alaska, were much more hopefully regarded. 
That ministers had more knowledge than this is certain ; 
Sir Garnet Wolseley, the Administrator of the Transvaal, 
in a despatch to Sir Michael Hicks Beach on the question of 
annexation, at the end of 1879, had written : " The Trans- 
vaal is rich in minerals ; gold has already been found in 
quantities, and there can be little doubt that larger and 
still more valuable goldfields will sooner or later be dis- 
covered." Yet this emphatic statement appears to have 
made no more impression on the Cabinet than the news- 
paper rumours had made on the public. Goschen, for 
example, laboured long at the Exchequer to devise solu- 
tions of the gold problem without any apparent expecta- 
tion of relief from a new supply. Scientists worked at 
1 Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 26. 

1881] COMMON SENSE 57 

new methods of treating auriferous ores, which had been 
sent to them from South Africa one of such methods, the 
use of hydrochloric acid, for refractory ores, was exhibited 
in London on 19th August 1881. But did even they 
know the significance of the task they had been set ? At 
any rate, for the present no new supply was in contempla- 
tion ; and the prevailing consciousness of the problem is 
sufficiently indicated by the meeting in Paris in May of this 
year of an international conference to deal with it. But 
as the bimetallic theory did not attain its full height in 
England until a year or two later we may leave that 
conference with the bare mention of its meeting. In this 
country the more active economic theory was of another 
kind. Early in May the question of the new French tariff 
became acute. Existing commercial treaties with France 
had determined by lapse of time ; and the new proposals 
of that country showed a considerable, and even grave, 
enhancement of import duties. The cotton and woollen 
trades were the most seriously disturbed, the previous 
taxes on their products having been 20 per cent, ad valorem, 
and the new taxes being 44 per cent. The Protectionist 
party, numbering still many of the surviving opponents 
of Repeal, was not slow to take this opportunity. By 
the month of September the Fair Trade League was in 
existence, with a programme singularly like a famous 
programme of twenty -two years later. It opened its 
campaign with emphasis on " retaliation " against high 
duties in other countries ; and, again as happened later, 
the idea of enabling these detached islands to take as 
downright a line as countries with large and varied re- 
sources by the formation of an Imperial Bund was early 
affixed to the programme, and in the end became more 
prominent than the original idea. The movement attracted 
the politically roving spirit of Lord Randolph Churchill ; 
and on 18th September he was laying before an audience 
at Oldham the desirability of taxing all foreign manu- 

58 COMMON SENSE [1881 

factured goods to relieve the burdens on land, and dilating 
on " the antagonism set up by the Liberal party between 
manufacturing and agricultural interests." In November 
he was even so near the later spirit as to be expending his 
sarcasm on " the commercial edifice constructed by the 
immortal Cobden and the divine Bright." In October 
the movement was being presented less aristocratically 
to the working man, a meeting at Sheffield passing a 
resolution to deplore " the failure of the present system 
of free trade so called . . . endangering the steady em- 
ployment, the fair wages, and the future well-being of 
our working classes." 

However, such trade problems as there were in this year 
did not disturb the general sense of restored comfort. 
The great middle class, convinced of its mission as the 
repository of " progress," had enough to engross it. 
Electricity was the new god of progress, and it continued 
its advances. Among public buildings two more railway 
stations, Charing Cross and Liverpool Street, installed the 
new light in January; the General Post Office began 
using it in the same month ; in June the Prudential Assur- 
ance Company had nine lights of 150 c.p. in its offices ; 
and the House of Commons first did its work under electric 
light. Among great private houses Trentham was fitted 
with the light in November. But the novelty in this year 
was the application of the invention to street lighting. 
Bristol appears to have been the first town to make the 
experiment, which it did in some of its principal thorough- 
fares in January ; and Brighton followed with an installa- 
tion on the sea-front in February. Liverpool set up sixty 
lamps over two and a half miles of its streets in April. 
London, more able to command the rivalry of inventors, 
offered the lighting of the City to be divided between three 
companies for an experimental period of twelve months, 
with a view to selecting one of them at the end of the 
period. Great interest was taken, even from the artistic 

1881] COMMON SENSE 59 

point of view of " seeing London in a new light," though 
a sarcastic person wrote to the Press to remark that the 
City was the worst part of London for the experiment, 
since 685,000 of its 800,000 inhabitants were not there at 
night, and only " the cats and the caretakers " would enjoy 
the fun. For the first time the gas companies took alarm ; 
they had somewhat unwisely raised their charges at the 
beginning of the year, and the best comfort that could be 
offered them was that there was still a great future for 
gas as a heating and power agent. Their panic subsided 
later owing to an unexpected slowness of pace in the 
development of the new illuminant. Meanwhile one of the 
most useful applications of electricity was in its extreme 
infancy. In May Mr Alexander Siemens was lecturing 
at the Society of Arts on the transmission of vehicles by 
electric power. The system he lectured upon was the use 
of a positive and a negative rail, replacing the customary 
tram-rails : after consideration, Mr Siemens told his 
audience, the authorities had decided to class the vehicle 
as a tramcar. But this was obviously too dangerous a 
method to last ; " live " rails would be impossible on the 
road surface. For several years yet invention failed at 
this problem. An " electric railway " was opened at the 
Crystal Palace in April, and towards the end of the year 
an electric tram was running on the Giant's Causeway and 
Portrush line ; but both these were worked with live rails. 
The latter, however, must have stimulated the inventors, 
for it was announced that it could be worked at a cost of 
a penny a mile, whereas the steam-trams, to which, in 
spite of their noisiness and dirt, corporations in large 
centres of population were finding themselves forced to 
consent, cost from Is. to Is. 9d. a mile. It may be added 
here that the general advances in electrical invention were 
summed up in an Electrical Exhibition opened in Paris 
in September of this year. Beyond its more common uses 
the delicate developments of electricity were attracting 

60 COMMON SENSE [1881 

the medical profession. An " induction balance " had been 
used in the case of President Garfield in August to locate 
the bullet that had been fired at him ; and at the end of 
the year experiments were made with a needle fitted with 
a kind of telephone attachment fixed to the surgeon's ear, 
which might, it was hoped, supersede the old probe. 

The particular medical interest of the year, however, 
so far as general knowledge went, was the new theory 
of bacteria. The researches of Pasteur had for some 
time been closely watched from England ; and although, 
as we shall have occasion to see later, it was chiefly the 
immediate and palpable cause of his researches, the treat- 
ment of hydrophobia, which interested the public mind, 
yet incidentally the more profound results were known 
even to the newspapers. In February telegrams from 
Paris stated that in investigating a case of hydrophobia 
Pasteur had found " a small organism or microbe," and 
the question had been raised whether this was a new form 
of disease, or whether rabies was caused by a microscopic 
organism. The ensuing months saw much discussion, 1 
the existence of these small organisms being admitted, 
but one school of medical thought maintaining a theory of 
" spontaneous generation," and holding that if water were 
put into a bottle living organisms would be " evolved " 
by putrefaction, but were not themselves the putrefaction. 

Again, the idea of progress was at the root of all the 
interest taken in ballooning at this time. Some of it, 
indeed, was merely a matter of fashion. The gatherings 
at Hurlingham and Ranelagh nowadays to see the start 
of balloon races had their origin in 1881 in a garden-party 
given by the new Balloon Society at Lillie Bridge ; the 
company was content with the spectacle of a single 
balloon, and its passengers made the report that London, 
owing to the people in the streets being indistinguishable, 
looked like a city of the dead . On 1 st June two Guardsmen 
1 See, for instance, The Times, i8th March and 9th August 1881.- 

1881] COMMON SENSE 61 

went to the Derby by balloon, starting from the Crystal 
Palace and landing at Epsom, in a field a quarter of a mile 
from the grand stand. But the real impetus of the 
balloon craze of these years was the serious middle-class 
enthusiasm. It was most ingeniously enlisted. A scheme 
would be propounded for reaching the Pole by triple 
balloons " lashed together for mutual aid," and launched 
on a " wind-curve " calculated to carry them in eighteen 
hours from a ship's chosen winter-quarters to the Pole. 
There would be devices for using balloons for army signal- 
ling ; for sending them up in fogs to explode dynamite 
and blow off the vapours ; for employing them to 
illuminate large surfaces with electric light. 

It is all rather solemn ; and indeed the middle-class 
of England, conscious of itself as a class for some time 
now, had not yet been penetrated by self-consciousness 
in the subtler sense. Sport and the worship of exercise 
never filled more than a couple of columns of the daily 
papers ; there were considerable intervals between race 
meetings ; the word " polo " was printed in inverted 
commas ; there was no golf ; football was still open to 
antagonism, for the Mayor of Southampton issued in 
September 1880 an appeal to the heads of families and 
schools to prevent the game of football " being played 
according to Rugby Union, Association, and other rules 
of a dangerous character," and the winter of 1881 brought 
another outcry, accompanied with specimen lists of 
casualties. The appearance of cycling in the sporting 
columns marks the first approach of a new era. Yet 
however distinctly we may see the middle-class as still 
ponderous and solid, it is no less a shock to come upon 
a perfectly grave notice in The Times 1 to this effect : 
" Fashion seems to have decreed that photographic albums 
are in future to be ornamented on each page. We have 
the ' Mikado ' album with Japanese scenes, the * Language 
4th February i88i; 

62 COMMON SENSE [1881 

of Flowers,' and the ' Picturesque ' with copies of etchings 
of quaint and pretty places." We are indeed in the days 
yet of albums ; and it was not a hopelessly old-fashioned 
member of the aristocracy who had presented to the 
Princess Frederica of Hanover at her wedding " a plush 

The most depressing circumstance, however, was not 
the impenetrability of the middle-class, but the fact that 
when penetrated, as on some matters of taste it was 
beginning to be, by new ideas, it sucked them up in a 
thoroughly wrong-headed way. The laying of the founda- 
tion stone of the City and Guilds of London Institute at 
South Kensington was accompanied by the reflection that 
the time of shoddy and bad work was over. " Think," 
wrote the impassioned leader-writer, " what a museum of 
horrors a furniture shop was before 1851. That was the 
beginning of our renaissance." And a month or two 
earlier we find papier-machS imitations of stamped leather 
seriously commended by the same newspaper as a form of 
decorative art. The death of Decimus Burton in December 
of this year called forth genuine and not ill-balanced 
appreciations of his architectural work in London the 
Athenaeum Clubhouse, the Hyde Park Corner screen, and 
the Constitution Hill Arch yet at the same time the 
beautiful and dignified old building in Lincoln's Inn Fields, 
which our own generation rejoices to have seen saved from 
demolition, was described as " that large, dull, heavy- 
looking mansion, Newcastle House." A still more de- 
plorable tendency is seen in a sarcastic leading article of 
this year on the conference of master builders, in which 
the builders are implored to consider " the pitiful elevation 
of the lengthy roads from the market gardens of Tyburnia 
or South Kensington " and to reflect " how very far its 
monotonous doors and windows fall short of the ideal 
street in which each dwelling shall look as if it could stand 
by itself with a character of its own." So lamentably was 

1881] COMMON SENSE 63 

the middle class taking at a gulp its own interpretation 
of what " artistic " meant, and longing to translate the 
genuine town architecture of London the not unworthy 
attempt to treat the street, rather than the house, as the 
essential consideration in massed centres of population 
into prettiness and picturesqueness. This was the year 
which saw the formation of the Bedford Park Com- 
pany in July, with a capital of 125,000, to develop that 

The most forceful influences in matters of taste at this 
time influences destined in the end to spread through 
every social level had turned their backs upon the 
middle class. One voice that had long raised itself against 
that class in this year fell silent. In February Thomas 
Carlyle died : the world lost in him not only a writer of 
history, but even more a prophet of the social conscience, 
a man of genius to whom the masses of the people were real. 
A teacher yet with years of life before him who had in 
no small measure reached his democratic feeling by way 
of revolt against the lack of a sense of responsibility, the 
lack of light, in the middle classes, was John Ruskin ; he 
was by now addressing himself almost entirely to the 
working man. Matthew Arnold, starting from yet a third 
position, was reaching the same end, and in carrying his 
gospel of the humaneness of education to the working 
men's colleges he was taking part in the new movement. 
We are at the period of conjunction between art and 
socialism, of which William Morris is the typical exponent. 
In May 1881 various Radical clubs of working men in 
London combined, forming the Democratic Federation i 
and, although the working man's circumstances in the 
ensuing years would in any case have endued such an 
organisation with power, it is none the less true that 
the presence in the movement of such men as Morris made 
it more formidable. He had a voice that was unwearying 
and was listened to. No one has expressed more tersely 

64 COMMON SENSE [1881 

than he the theory that was behind the alliance of art 
with socialism. " I know," he said, referring to a recent 
demonstration by working men, " what these men want : 
employment which would foster their self-respect, and 
win the praise and sympathy of their fellows, and dwellings 
which they could come to with pleasure, surroundings 
which would soothe and elevate them ; reasonable labour, 
reasonable rest. There is only one thing that can give 
them this Art." x The self-respect of the workman 
coming from labour that was reasonable was the heart of 
Morris's social creed ; and it had this soundness that 
he had come to it not from a theoretical consideration of 
the workman, but from his own experience in dealing with 
the world. He wanted to have, and to make for other 
people, beautiful things. He was roused to fury, not by 
blank impenetrability on the part of the middle class, but 
by the quality of its susceptibility. It allowed itself to 
be told that many of its surroundings were ugly, and it 
substituted for them others of a different taste with exactly 
the same superficial attention. In his own work as 
a craftsman he was " confronted everywhere with the 
double barrier of material that would not take good colour, 
and colour which in its own substance was uniformly bad." 2 
Worst of all, he saw his gospel running to waste among 
people who bought things made in that inadequate way 
and were satisfied with them. It was to his mind the same 
spirit that showed itself in lack of regulation of employ- 
ment ; in the blundering semi-charitable movement for 
workmen's dwellings ; in such groping efforts on the 
workman's behalf as the Coffee-house movement, now 
very active. 

In this spirit art as the gospel of genuineness, of reason- 
ableness and of reality was being preached to the workman. 
In 1881 the first Whitechapel art show was held in a school- 

1 Speech delivered at Burslem, i3th October 1881. 

2 Mackail's Life of William Morris, i. 311. 

1881] COMMON SENSE 65 

room, with pictures by Leighton, Watts, Burne-Jones 
and Walter Crane, and an exhibition of pottery and 
embroideries. More directly the building of the City and 
Guilds of London Institute was heralding a fresh era in 
industrial art ; the new Natural History Museum, opened 
on Easter Monday in this year, began to put order into the 
educational chaos of South Kensington ; and the Ruskin 
Museum at Sheffield was far advanced. The opening of 
the University College at Nottingham on 28th June led 
to a gratified survey of an educational movement which, 
beginning with the University of London, had expanded 
to the Queen's Colleges of Ireland, the University of 
Durham, with its offshoot in the Science College at New- 
castle, the Victoria University, the Science College at 
Leeds, Mason College at Birmingham, and the most recent 
university colleges of Liverpool and Nottingham. The 
vigour of educational interest in the provinces was matter 
for comment. The School Boards were making progress 
towards secondary education, and, though the teaching 
of domestic economy had as yet but limited support, the 
movement for including in the code such subjects as 
cooking, heating and ventilation had come into existence. 
We may see the effect of the year's access of common- 
sense in the state of ecclesiastical controversy. Mr Dale 
was transferred from the conspicuousness of his city church 
to a country living ; and early in the year an attempt was 
made, by means of a memorial to the Archbishop of Can- 
terbury, to set up a policy of " live and let live." The 
memorial pleaded for " recognised toleration of even wide 
diversities of ceremonial," and also petitioned that the 
courts for ecclesiastical causes should be " such as to secure 
the conscientious obedience of clergymen who believe 
the constitution of the Church of Christ to be of divine 
appointment." The memorial was signed by five deans : 
Dr Church of St Paul's, Dr Lake of Durham, Dr Cowie of 
Manchester, Lord Alwyne Compton of Worcester, and Dr 

66 COMMON SENSE [1881 

Purey Cust of York ; by several archdeacons ; and among 
the canonry by Gregory, Liddon and Stubbs of St Paul's, 
and Dr King of Christ Church. What, again, could be 
more sensible than the comment made upon that notoriety 
which the attacks of street roughs were bringing upon the 
Salvation Army ? The disturbances had produced a 
question in Parliament, to which Sir William Harcourt, 
as Home Secretary, had replied that, if the Salvation Army 
complained of attacks, it was fair to remind the Army that 
its methods were somewhat provocative. The comment 
made on this was that such a doctrine might easily go 
too far. "We need not assist the roughs to put the 
Salvation Army down. Another course lies before us all. 
It is to do the Army's work in a better way." * These 
disturbances became more deliberate and more organised 
later on ; but they are mentioned here because, although 
the Army had been in existence since 1865, this 
year was the first in which it attracted widespread 

Even the world of fashion seems to show us in 1881 the 
working of common-sense. It is a small but not quite 
insignificant fact that " Evans's " this year ceased to be 
even a name. It had previously come to the end of its 
too lingering career as the only survival of the "night 
houses " of the sixties ; and now the last familiar name 
of that rowdy high life of Lord Hastings and his friends 
disappeared, and the place became the Falstaff Club. An 
event, however, of more importance is the indication that 
the great world was changing its habits in regard to the 
old-fashioned London season. The idea was being mooted 
that the time had come to be done with the old sharp 
distinction between " the season " and " out of season." 
The modern comfort of railway travelling dining cars, 
for instance, had appeared this year on the Great Northern 
and Midland railways was making it unnecessary, and 
1 The Times, ijth October 1881. 

1881] COMMON SENSE 67 

indeed almost silly, to keep up a fashion due to a time 
when the journey to London of a great household was too 
large an affair to be undertaken more than once a year. 1 
Common-sense seemed too to be colouring very strongly 
the relation of great families to their territories. Rents 
had had to be reduced on account of the combination 
of general agricultural depression with particularly bad 
harvests ; and while on the one hand this led to a perverse 
and peevish kind of common-sense in the deliberate turning 
of some large tracts into rabbit warrens, 8 it led also to a 
new hardheadedness in the forwarding of agricultural 
associations to make experiments in crops, fertilisers and 
soils. Rectors complained that their glebe could find no 
tenants ; yet land could hardly have been valueless when 
a farm of 190 acres in Sussex fetched 7200, and 103 acres 
of marsh pastureland fetched 7500. It is significant also 
of a new feeling in society that the sale of game by great 
landlords was taken quite calmly. Preserving was al- 
ready a business. 

The season of 1881 was again chronicled as one devoid 
of notable interest. It had its " lion," of the kind usual in 
those days, in the shape of the King of the Sandwich Islands, 
who came to Claridge's in July, and was at all the parties 
in London and elsewhere for a month. A " lion " more 
interesting to us now was Ivan Turgenieff, who came, as 
was fitting for the writer of A Sportsman's Sketches, 
in the autumn, and was shooting partridges in Cambridge- 
shire in October. The season had its mild sensation in 
the marriage of the Baroness Burdett-Coutts in February 
to an American ; and it is a coincidence that one of the 
marks of the season was a new impulse of friendliness 
between this country and the United States. The linger- 
ing soreness of the Alabama claims was dispelled by the 

1 The Times, 3oth July 1880. 

2 Cf. the case of a large estate of a thousand acres in Hampshire! 
The Times, 23rd July 1881; 

68 COMMON SENSE [1881 

feelings of sympathy aroused by the assassination of 
President Garfield. New York became once more a subject 
of interest free of afterthoughts, and the British public 
read this year of the " costly house " of Mr Vanderbilt, 
which had absorbed only the sum, petty to a millionaire 
of these days, of 300,000 ; and of the advance of high 
buildings, which now sound equally petty ; houses were 
being put up actually of seven or nine storeys high, and 
the New York correspondents prophesied that in a few 
years the streets would " tower to the height of ten or 
eleven storeys." 

Early in the year the season had been overcast by 
two events. In March the papers began to contain 
intimations of Beaconsfield's failure of health. On 19th 
April he died ; and modern generations, to whom his 
domination appears to have been absolute, will find the 
leading articles at the time of his death singularly re- 
served, and not obscurely tinged by a mistrust that he 
never surmounted. Perhaps the reason was that, as an 
old man, he had relapsed into those characteristics of the 
alien the avowed alien which were partly racial and 
partly the Daemon of his genius. That strange figure, 
with the dyed hair, the sunken, smouldering eyes and 
parchment cheeks, which only broke its silence at London 
dinner-tables to launch some levin of an epigram, must have 
reminded the great world that, after all, the new spirit of 
Imperialism, the new regime in India, and almost all such 
power as the Tories had of appealing to the working man, 
were the achievement of an individual whom people yet 
alive could remember in a fringed waistcoat and green 
velvet trousers, affronting in person and manner every 
canon of their tastes. Perhaps, too, in the later years of 
his power the absorption of English energies in foreign 
affairs, the apprehension that it raised of entanglement 
in European disputes, had savoured of a cosmopolitanism 
not English in the great man, a quality, it may be, which 

1881] COMMON SENSE 69 

his eminence had kept out of sight, until age brought back 
the ineradicable trait of his race. At any rate the strange- 
ness of him sounded its note at the end as at the beginning; 
at the sale of his effects three months after his death people 
crowded the house in Curzon Street to stare at the bedroom 
walls hung with blue silk embroidered with roses in bloom, 
the crimson satin damask dining-room, the brocades of the 
drawing-room. Even in the formal tributes of the Press 
the strangeness is more commented on than anything else : 
" His secret lay perhaps," The Times wrote, " in the mag- 
netic influence of a dauntless will, in his unrivalled power 
of patience, in his impenetrable reserve and detachment." 
" Magnetic " and " impenetrable " were curious epitaphs 
for a Prime Minister of England. 

The other shadow on the year was one which afterwards 
became so heavy that it is somewhat difficult to recall the 
spirit in which it was first met. On 28th February the 
telegrams announcing the British defeat on Majuba Hill 
were published in London . Bitter as the news was, prompt 
as the outcry was in some sections of the community, yet 
the country did not as a whole forget how ready it had 
been in the previous year to accede to the Boer demand 
for the withdrawal of the annexation. On the whole it was 
conscious that it had slipped into this disaster by some- 
thing approaching carelessness. True, the outbreak of 
hostile operations by the Boers had at the beginning of 
the year somewhat dimmed that consciousness ; and there 
were not lacking signs of a very different kind when, on 
Lord Roberts's departure to take command in South Africa, 
ladies strewed his path from his carriage to the train with 
flowers. But prevailing influences were in the main for the 
steadying of opinion. It was affected partly by the old 
spirit towards Colonial responsibilities the pre-Disraelian 
spirit " There are," The Times wrote, " some thirty-five 
millions of people in these islands. . . . Can it be said 
that any one of these is benefited by the sacrifices that all 

70 COMMON SENSE [1881 

have made on behalf of South Africa ? We cannot but be 
proud of the heroism displayed by Englishmen at Rorke's 
Drift, or at Ulundi, but can we honestly say that a quarrel 
with Cetewayo or the Boers of the Transvaal is one in which 
it is worth while for a single Englishman to shed his blood ? 
. . . Are we indeed the weaker or the stronger, the richer 
or the poorer, the happier or the reverse, for our vast 
Colonial possessions ? " l Of course after Majuba, opinion 
underwent modification. But the attitude even then was 
not one of reasserting annexation, but only of insisting on 
a considerable measure of control of the Transvaal's affairs. 
The doctrine of suzerainty, appearing in answer to this 
demand, was but coldly received. The word, it was felt, 
was virtually invented for the occasion, and had no real 
meaning. " To style the Queen suzerain is not to specify 
her relations to the feudatory republic." * What was 
required was " a practical reconciliation, which to some 
persons seems at present impossible, between the liberty 
of a population of sequestered farmers to select their own 
magistrates and determine their own taxation, and their 
privation of right to irritate the sea of native life on their 
borders into periodical storms and tempests of war." s 
Most important of all is it to realise that the Government's 
announced policy of not pursuing the war, and of meeting 
the Boers to decide the status of the Transvaal, had strong 
support. The idea was placed beside the withdrawal from 
Candahar, which had taken place quietly early in this 
year, as the most sensible course to pursue. In the month 
of June Mr Chamberlain, speaking at Birmingham, ex- 
posed some of the errors of the preceding months. Even 
to the beginning of December 1880, in spite of all that had 
become publicly known about the Boer hatred of annexa- 
tion, Sir Owen Lanyon, the Administrator, was still telling 

1 The Times, 6th January 1881. 

2 Ditto, 8th March 1881. 
1 Ditto, 5th April 1881; 

1881] COMMON SENSE 71 

the Government that three-quarters of the Boer population 
had ceased to care about it. After the insurrection had 
broken out there were more blunders. Mr Kruger had 
spoken of submitting the question to a Royal Commission, 
and Sir George Colley had been instructed to arrange a 
settlement on the first condition that the Boers must lay 
down their arms. " While the correspondence was going 
on," said Mr Chamberlain, " and in the midst of the negotia- 
tions, the British troops unfortunately on three several 
occasions marching in inferior numbers to attack the 
strong position of the Boers met with a repulse." In 
the midst of rumours, disquieting and reassuring, as to 
the progress in South Africa of the commission which had 
been appointed to arrange the terms of settlement, the 
persistent story of error was recalled. " We know now 
that we were wrong, that the annexation was unpopular 
from the first, and that the injudicious way in which it 
was carried out only served to fan the smouldering dis- 
content. It is not the fact that they have defeated us 
that has opened our eyes, for that taken by itself would 
rather have tended to keep them closed, but the fact that 
they have satisfied us of the substantial justice of their 
case. . . . Nor is it possible to acquit the present Govern- 
ment for declining to do a year ago what it had subse- 
quently admitted the justice and necessity of doing. . . . 
We were misinformed and misled from the outset." l 
There was a genuine wish that the settlement now should 
not be hedged about by conditions that could only lead 
to spite and irritation. Nothing, in fact, it was thought, 
could be better than to have done with the whole matter, 
and the news that the Convention was signed was received 
with relief. " England can now have no desire to intrude 
herself upon the Transvaal. The more completely its 
people can get on without interference of any kind the 
better pleased we shall be. ... The fact is that between 
1 The Times , I2th July 1881.- 

72 COMMON SENSE [1881 

England and the Transvaal there is no natural connection 
whatever." * " I am sure," Mr Gladstone said, speaking 
at the Mansion House two or three days after the signature, 
" that there are no rival interests between us and the 
Boers." Lord Salisbury, who had been elected at a 
meeting at Lord Abergavenny's house on 10th May to 
succeed Lord Beaconsfield as leader of the Tory peers, 
might make speeches about the loyal minority in the 
Transvaal, and say that everything in South Africa would 
now happen " under the shadow of Majuba Hill " ; but 
the question practically dropped out of English political 
life for some years. 

Indeed only with difficulty could it have continued to 
occupy a place. Parliament had found itself reduced to 
a lamentable barrenness. After the turn that events had 
taken in Ireland, men knew what to expect in England ; 
and before Parliament met there was much discussion 
about the forms of closure of debate (the idea was still so 
new that the word for it retained its French form cloture) 2 
in operation in the parliaments of other countries. The 
blow struck by the executive in the arrests of Parnell, 
Biggar and others in November 1880 was mistimed ; the 
accused were brought for trial in January, and on the 
disagreement of the jury were all discharged. Lord 
Cowper and Mr Forster, backed by Lord Hartington, had 
never relaxed their demand for renewal of the Coercion 
Act ; and they could now bring to bear on the Cabinet 
discussions the effect of this futile trial. Yet it was not 
believed that the Government would agree ; they were 
supposed to be too much under the control of the Radical 
wing. " Mr Chamberlain and Mr Bright will not vindicate 
the law ; they will dismember the Empire, and Mr Glad- 
stone and the rest will consent to register their decrees." s 

1 The Times, sth August 1881. 

2 It was Matthew Arnold who first pointed out that the English 
language contained the word '-'- closure/-' which quite met the need. 

1 Quarterly Review, January 1881. 

^ N 

1881] COMMON SENSE 73 

That view was mistaken. The Queen's speech at the 
opening of Parliament hinted at suspension of the Habeas 
Corpus Act ; and almost immediately Mr Forster intro- 
duced a Coercion Bill, giving power to arrest suspected 
persons and keep them in prison for any period up to 30th 
September 1882. Irish obstruction met this at once in 
such force that the first stage, the leave of the House 
to introduce the Bill, was only attained by a course of 
action which remains one of the historic incidents of Par- 
liament. When the debate had lasted several days the 
Speaker cut across all forms of procedure by putting the 
question on his own responsibility. The House was taken 
by surprise, and the debate was ended. The Crimes Act 
became law in March, and the old attitude towards 
Ireland was in full sway in Mr Gladstone's idea of pro- 
ducing, concurrently with the Coercion measure, a Land 
measure, establishing the " Three F's " fair rent, fixity 
of tenure, and freedom of sale. The Bessborough Com- 
mission had just reported in favour of such legislation ; 
but it was unfortunate that it had not reported a year 
earlier. In 1880 the Bill might have changed the face of 
the Irish situation ; in 1881 it was doggedly wrangled 
over by Irishmen infuriated by the revival of coercion, 
Conservatives displeased with any land legislation, and 
Liberals sore and angry at the conditions which had driven 
them into coercion. Moreover, the moment the Land Act 
was passed it was cleverly taken over by the Land League. 
Instead of weakening that body it strengthened it. Parnell 
contrived that no one should apply to the Land Court 
without consulting, and obtaining the consent of, the local 
branch of the League. 

These two measures, and bewildered discussions of the 
paralysis of debate and the forms of procedure in the face 
of obstruction, occupied almost the whole of a very long 
session. The Judicature Act, taking the opportunity of 
the approaching transfer of the Law Courts from West- 

74 COMMON SENSE [1881 

minster to their new site at Temple Bar, made changes 
in the organisation of legal administration ; and the Chief 
Baron, the Serjeants at Law, and other dignitaries were 
abolished. The Bankruptcy Act did away with old 
methods of liquidation, which had led to much corrupt 
bargaining with creditors and to fraudulent arrangements ; 
and provided for the establishment of a new Bankruptcy 
Court, for public examination of debtors, and an audit of 
accounts in liquidation. 

The place Ireland had been taking during the session 
was not in the least out of proportion to the urgency and 
gravity of the Irish problem. Already the Land League 
was achieving the end set before it by Irish newspapers, 
notably The Irish World and The Irishman, which had 
been fond of saying that Ireland could not hope to beat 
England in battle, but she might render the work of govern- 
ment " nervous and distracted." x The House of Commons 
had cheered the announcement early in February that 
Michael Davitt had been arrested on his unexpired ticket - 
of-leave ; but those who cheered expected a counterstroke 
in the shape of dynamite, and the precautions adopted 
are exemplified in the care taken when a heavy parcel 
addressed to Sir William Harcourt was delivered at the 
Home Office. Removed by the police and opened by them 
it was found to contain an old pistol. Davitt's arrest 
itself was a sign of the confusion of thought that had set 
in. He had been the first and the most energetic in the 
condemnation of the violence that broke out in 1880 2 ; 
but his name stood in the popular mind for Fenianism, 
and Government followed the popular mind. For some 
months no other spectacular step was taken. But agrarian 
crime in Ireland was making another great increase ; the 
figures for 1880 were 2590; for 1881 they were 4439. 
Boycotting was rife, with its accompaniments of shooting, 

1 Cf. Parnell Commissioners' Report, p. 70. 
Ibid., p. 88. 

1881] COMMON SENSE 75 

cattle-maiming, and murder. For a while the Government 
hesitated on the subject of the Land League. Their law 
officers had given opinions on its vulnerability as a con- 
spiracy ; but there were other considerations summed up in 
a letter of Lord Cowper's to the Cabinet. "If," he wrote, 
" the restraining influences of the central body were with- 
drawn, and the local branches driven to become secret 
societies, crime, particularly assassination, might increase, 
for though the central body gives unity and strength 
to the movement it does to a certain extent restrain 
crime." * This is very close to what Parnell himself had 
said in a speech at New Ross, co. Wexford, in September 
1880, when he took the line that violence was a corollary 
of lack of organisation, and that if the Land League were 
completely organised no man would dare abuse his rights 
as a landlord. 2 But the Government could see only one 
step to take. In October 1881 it suppressed the Land 
League, and under the Crimes Act lodged Parnell, Sexton, 
O'Kelly, O'Brien and Dr Kenny in Kilmainham gaol. The 
Land League, its responsible heads removed, transferred 
its headquarters, under Patrick Egan, to Paris, and left in 
Ireland the Ladies' Land League, which had been founded, 
in February 1881, under the command of Miss Anna 
Parnell. Mr Forster had had his way, and one incident 
of this autumn must have gratified him. Parnell, against 
the advice of Dillon, issued from Kilmainham the "No 
Rent " manifesto, urging tenants to refuse all rent until 
constitutional rights were restored. But the priests were 
against this open defiance of law, and the manifesto " fell 
absolutely flat." 3 The arrests may therefore have seemed 
for the moment to be a successful move. Yet Mr Glad- 
stone admitted in after years that the policy of the Govern- 
ment had been a mistake ; and John Bright confessed that 

1 Quoted in Barry O'Brien's Life of Parnell, i. 287. 

2 Parnell Commissioners' Report, p. 88. 

8 Barry O'Brien's Life of Parnell, i. 320. 

76 COMMON SENSE [1881 

the mistake was due to a misapprehension of the forces of 
the Land League. 1 

The brewing of another storm was at present un- 
noticed by the British public. In August rumours began 
to reach England of disaffection among the native 
troops of Egypt. These rumours were denied by the 
Khedive; and even when, a month later, circumstantial 
reports followed of an emeute in Cairo, in which the palace 
had been surrounded by troops and guns, and demands 
had been made on the army's behalf by one whose name 
was given as " Achmet el Ourabi," the ordinary English- 
man was not much stirred. He knew only vaguely of 
Egypt as a country whose ruler by extravagant expendi- 
ture and reckless borrowing had run his nation into 
hopeless debt, and had had to submit to the appointment 
of a joint French and English control, which worked 
badly owing to mutual jealousies. He saw these jealousies 
breaking out now, French newspapers suggesting that 
the military rising was in some way engineered by England 
as a step towards intervention, English newspapers suggest- 
ing, when (in exercise of her supremacy) Turkey sent 
commissioners to investigate the outbreak, that this was 
some Machiavellian stroke of Bismarck's, and that there 
might be worse things than anarchy in Egypt. The year 
ended with the Turkish commissioners, whose arrival had 
caused immense excitement in Cairo, going peaceably to 
dinner-parties, but doing little else ; and with an interview 
in which Arabi, now arrived at the familiar spelling, pro- 
tested to Sir William Gregory his loyalty to the Sultan, 
his faithfulness to religion, his sole desire to improve the 
conditions and efficiency of the Egyptian army, and his 
lack of any intention to undermine the joint control. 
1 Barry O'Brien's Life of Parnell, i. 331 ; ii. 360, 



THE Liberal Government of 1880-1885 was itself 
conscious of carrying certain handicaps. The 
worship of Mr Gladstone, useful though it may 
have been in holding the party together, was apt 
to become a dead weight when problems arose in 
which he took but a perfunctory interest. Mistrust 
of Mr Chamberlain caused such members of the 
Cabinet as Lord Hartington and Lord Granville to feel 
uncomfortable and uncertain in their work. In Parlia- 
ment the Irish disaffection and the harassing activity of 
the " Fourth Party " incessantly hampered the progress 
of public business. But there was a heavier handicap 
than any of these. The forces of idealism in the national 
life the forces making for reconsideration of social duties, 
for readjustment of social conceptions were to a very 
large extent divorced from politics and political creeds. 
They had been drained off along several channels. There 
was the Socialist view, that Parliament was in the hands 
of the professional and manufacturing middle class, and 
worked solely from the standpoint of that class. There 
was the view of the ardent social reformer, who, though 
he may be said actually to date from a famous piece of 
Parliamentary action the Factory Acts had grown 
impatient, and preferred almost any nostrum to the hope 
of reforming legislation. There was the somewhat chilly 
ethical enthusiasm, born of the new religion of science, 
which held that sanitary inspection could cure more evils 
than the most drastic Act of Parliament. There was the 



Christian zeal, whether of the type of Charles Kingsley or 
of Father Dolling, which, seeing with new eyes the terrible 
state of its vineyard, called aloud for labour that would 
never have time to look beyond the immediate day's work. 
All this diversion of idealism the Government did not 
number among its handicaps ; yet it was certainly the 
heaviest. The bad effect was twofold. On the one hand 
social problems accumulated such a force of highly 
educated opinion that they became exasperatingly thorny 
to handle ; and on the other hand much of the Radical 
strength in the country was sapped by the easy habit of 
looking on, detached from the necessity of distinguishing 
between right and wrong, so long as one Government was 
as good or as bad as another. So far the Government had 
displayed no capacity for drawing to itself the vitality of 
all that independent enthusiasm. 

At the beginning of 1882 it nearly achieved, however, a 
great clearing of its path. Mr Gladstone never showed 
more brilliant political instinct than in the masterly con- 
ception of a stroke of Irish policy by which he could sweep 
influences, apparently hostile at the time and weakening 
to his power, into a single whole-hearted purpose. Within 
the Cabinet his own disappointment at having been obliged 
to revive coercion coincided in some measure with the 
Radical feeling of Mr Chamberlain. Coercion was also, 
for very different reasons, the especial object at the moment 
of the attacks of the " Fourth Party " in the House. 
Mr W. H. Smith was hinting at the possibility of a Con- 
servative scheme of land purchase for Ireland ; and Lord 
Hartington was in a mood which he expressed thus to 
Lord Granville : "It seems to me that an effort ought to 
be made to unite the two great parties on an Irish policy. 
. . . Though we go on talking about local government, 
and about the county franchise and redistribution of seats, 
and though Chamberlain thinks that we are on the eve of 
great political changes, I do not believe that one of them 


will be made while the Irish difficulty lasts." All these 
influences were at sixes and sevens. Harrington's union 
of the two parties would have been rather repressive than 
otherwise, so the idea had no reality ; Smith was only 
making the kind of remarkwhich is safe and comforting out 
of office ; the " Fourth Party " was merely scoring debat- 
ing points about the inconsistency and failure of Ministerial 
professions. But, whatever the separate intentions, they 
all expressed one opinion that the present situation of 
the Irish question was hopeless. The day-to-day method 
of meeting it had produced such a tangle that it was time 
to attempt a wider and longer view, if Government was 
to escape suffocation. Mr Gladstone's brilliance lay in 
seeing that these very different lines of criticism made a 
kind of current on which he might set floating a policy of 
genuine advance in Ireland : and it fell out that an oppor- 
tunity was not unwelcome to the Irish leaders. Parnell in 
gaol was feeling that the direction of events in Ireland was 
in danger of slipping from his hands. The co-operation 
between the extremist section and the Parliamentary 
party was his work, and nobody but he could manage it ; 
his silence, his refusal to be " drawn " either by the ex- 
tremists or by his own party, his capacity for locking up 
the precise threads of co-operation in his single mind, and 
keeping that mind impenetrable, were the only conditions 
on which the co-operation could be safely worked. In gaol 
he was out of touch, and was growing nervous. He 
mistrusted the Ladies' Land League and lived in dread 
of the party's being publicly and irredeemably associated 
with Fenianism. He was therefore in a mood not to hold 
off from the intimations which presently reached him of 
Mr Gladstone's desire to make a fresh start. Intimations 
had previously reached Mr Gladstone of ParnelPs state of 
mind. 2 These exchanges (never acknowledged as such by 

1 Holland's Life of the Duke of Devonshire, i. 344. 

2 Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 64. 


either of the two men) took place in April 1882 ; and to 
Parnell they must have been strengthened by the fact 
that the Arrears of Rent Bill, introduced originally by 
an Irish member, Mr Redmond, to supplement and ameli- 
orate the Land Act of 1881, had been taken up by the 
Government, and passed into law on 18th April. It pro- 
vided that, in cases in which the tenant could satisfy the 
legal tribunal of his inability to pay the whole of his 
arrears of rent, he should be called upon to pay the rent 
for 1881, but only half the arrears of preceding years, the 
State paying the other half. Mr Gladstone, as his nature 
was, having seen a piece of rectification to perform, moved 
very rapidly in his opinions. There is a famous letter of 
his to Mr Forster, dated in this month (it became famous 
later in the discussion of whether the trend of his mind 
towards Home Rule could have been foreseen by his 
party), in which he showed this rapidity very clearly. He 
asserted that, until there were seriously responsible bodies 
in Ireland, every plan framed by the Government came 
as an English plan, and was as such condemned, and that 
there must therefore be some form of local self-government. 
This was the passage afterwards most canvassed ; but 
the passage most to our immediate purpose, as showing 
how far Mr Gladstone had moved, was this : " If we say 
we must postpone the question till the state of the country 
is more fit for it, I should answer that the least danger 
is in going forward at once. Jtjsjiberty alone which fits 
_men for _ liberty. This proposition, like every other in 
politics, has its bounds ; but it is far safer than the 
counter-doctrine, wait till they are fit." * This was a 
fairly swift change in eighteen months from the position 
he had taken at the Guildhall Banquet on 9th November 
1880, that order must be restored before grievances could 
be considered. 

As Gladstone and Parnell never admitted the exchange 
1 Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 58. 


of preliminary intimations in April 1882, so neither of them 
would ever admit the implication contained in the words 
" The Kilmainham Treaty." But when Parnell and the 
others were released from gaol, on 2nd May, it was fairly 
well understood that, if the Government would continue 
to consider sympathetically the difficulties of the Irish 
tenant, there would be a diminution of agrarian crime. 
ParnelPs side of the bargain was variously stated. The 
fact probably was that he merely meant to prove the truth 
of what he had said in 1880, that violence was really lack of 
organisation, and that the Land League, if he were free 
to control it, would neither murder men nor maim cattle. 
Though on the release of the prisoners Lord Cowper re- 
signed the Viceroyalty, and Mr Forster the Chief Secretary- 
ship, the Cabinet on the whole was with Mr Gladstone, 
even Lord Hartington holding the opinion that enough had 
been done to reassert the law, and that no danger was 
involved in the release. 1 A new hopefulness pervaded the 
political atmosphere. Lord Spencer succeeded to the 
Viceroyalty and Lord Frederick Cavendish undertook 
the Chief Secretaryship. 

Before a week had passed, the Phoenix Park murders 
took place. Lord Frederick Cavendish was walking with 
Mr Burke, the Under Secretary, across the park on 6th 
May, after a long consultation with Lord Spencer at the 
castle, when they were set upon and stabbed to death. 
" It has been said," Lord Morley writes, " that the nine- 
teenth century had seen the course of its history twenty- 
five times diverted by actual or attempted crime. In that 
sinister list the murders in the Phoenix Park have a tragic 
place." 2 For one horrified moment every eye turned to 
Parnell ; but there could be no mistaking his innocence. 
He bore too obviously the marks of having received from 
the crime a blow which seemed to him nothing less than 

1 Holland's Life of the Duke of Devonshire, i. 353: 

2 Life of Gladstone, iii. 68. 


fatal ; prostrated and despairing he called on Mr Gladstone 
on the morning after the murders to tell him that he felt 
unable to do any more for Ireland ; he was with real 
difficulty restrained from resigning his seat. That first 
horror relieved, there emerged from the inevitably re- 
newed conflict of political views a dignity of spirit which 
forbade any bandying to and fro of the tragedy. Whether 
in the bearing of those whose personal loss was cruel or of 
those whose political work was for the time ruined, whether 
in the language of the Press or of the House of Commons, 
there was no reckless accusation, no bitterness of re- 
crimination. Years afterwards it could even be written 
that " the crime cleared the air like a disastrous storm, 
and made possible the beginning of better relations be- 
tween the English and Irish." x That is not true of the 
state of feeling at the moment. The murders did certainly 
produce a softening, even a wonderful softening, of hearts, 
in which no wild words were permitted ; but English 
feeling returned at once to its fixed point. On llth May 
Sir William Harcourt introduced a new Crimes Bill, and 
Ireland was put back under coercion and abnormal pro- 
cesses of law for the detection of the murderers. Irish 
members fought the Bill, even with violence in the House, 
but it was quickly passed. Indeed, the condition of 
Ireland seemed to justify the most stern Tory view. 
Parnell's worst fears of what might happen while he was 
in prison were realised. He had lost control, and for the 
time being was too bitterly stricken to attempt to regain 
it. The Land League without his guidance plunged help- 
lessly. The Invincibles, a Fenian organisation which 
hardly affected to conceal its responsibility for the murders, 
" roved with knives about the streets of Dublin. Dis- 
content had stirred in the ranks of the Royal Irish Con- 
stabulary. . . . Over half the country the demoralisation 
of every class, the terror, the fierce hatred, the universal 
1 Holland's Life of the Duke of Devonshire, i. 353. 


distrust, had grown to an incredible pitch. . . . The 
power of random arrest and detention under the Coercion 
Act of 1881 had not improved the moral of magistrates 
and police." 1 

In such conditions vaguely informed public opinion con- 
centrated upon Ireland could only do harm. It happened 
fortunately that popular interest was suddenly drawn off, 
by the discovery that a riot in Alexandria on 12th June 
was an affair of the utmost seriousness. Fifty Europeans 
had been killed, and the troops under Arabi were raising 
new batteries round the harbour. The great mass of 
commonplace people in England never penetrated, during 
the ensuing events, much beyond the figure of Arabi him- 
self. He was a rebel of some sort, and the reason for our 
being engaged in suppressing him gave no pause to the 
ordinary man. He knew that three years earlier, in June 
1879, the Khedive Ismail of Egypt had been deposed in 
order to make way for a complete reconstruction of the 
financial position of his country. He knew also that 
in this reconstruction England had taken a leading 
part among the European Powers ; and it was obvious 
that the work could not go forward if the peace 
were disturbed. Roughly speaking, such a simplifica- 
tion of the facts had actually occurred by this time ; but 
for the authorities both in England and in Egypt the pro- 
gress of events during the past eighteen months had been 
extremely baffling. The International Commission of 
Liquidation, whose main work had been to unify at a fixed 
rate of interest the immense mass of irregular unrelated 
loans raised by Ismail, had naturally been obliged, in 
securing the administration of the finances, to overhaul 
some departments of the public life of the country. The 
army, for very good reasons, had not been dealt with. For 
one thing, it was more unequivocally a Turkish affair than 
most of the questions in Egypt . The suzerainty of Turkey, 
1 Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 70. 


a mere shadow in most respects, had been maintained over 
the army, and the permission to keep a standing army of 
18,000 men was specifically given in the Sultan's new 
firman after Ismail's deposition. Any attempt, there- 
fore, to bring the army into relation with the new life of 
Egypt was bound to be a delicate matter ; and unluckily, 
when the attempt was made, it was unwisely handled. 
The presentation to the Khedive in January 1881 of a 
petition from the army seems to have been such an attempt, 
since it complained not only of arrears of pay, but also of a 
system of promotion based on anything but merit. But 
the petition further demanded the dismissal of Osman Rifki 
Pasha, the Turk who was Minister for War in the Egyptian 
Government, and showed generally so much anti-Turkish 
feeling that Riaz Pasha, the Khedive's Prime Minister, 
treated it as mutiny. Technically, no doubt, it was mutiny, 
but the plain course in that case was to take steps to secure 
some part of the army, and arrest the ringleaders. Riaz 
took the foolish step of sending for the two officers known 
to be chiefly responsible for the petition to appear before a 
Council of Ministers, hoping that his intention of conveying 
them from the council to prison would not be divined, 
and that the army, left leaderless, could then be reduced to 
discipline. Of course, the troops saw through the device, 
broke into the room where the Ministry was sitting, and 
rescued the two officers. They were Arabi Bey and Ali 
Bey Fehmi. The Khedive, caught with no force at his 
back, was compelled to overlook completely the rescue of 
the two colonels, and the army was given a sudden new 
sense of power. In fact, the collapse of authority was 
so thorough that the army itself was scared, as people 
are apt to be when a door which they were making 
ready to force suddenly opens from within. The question 
arises : what is behind the door ? This nervousness, the 
fear of retribution at any moment, had produced the 
imeute of September 1881, which had vaguely brought 


Egypt back to the mind of the English public. An order 
issued to the 3rd Regiment of Infantry Arabi's regiment 
to proceed to Alexandria had been interpreted as a first 
step towards punishment, by separating the leaders of the 
movement. Arabi with 2500 men and some artillery 
marched to the Abdin palace, demanding to see the 
Khedive. The Khedive was at another palace, but under 
the advice of Sir Auckland Colvin, the British Agent in 
Cairo, he returned to Cairo displaying no little courage 
and met Arabi, who dictated to him the dismissal of the 
Ministry, the summoning of a parliament, and the raising 
of the army to the full establishment allowed by the Sultan's 
firman. The Khedive acceded at once to the first demand, 
on the condition that the two others were referred to 

It will be noticed that in these demands a new element 
appeared. The phrase about summoning a parliament 
was an open profession of co-operation between the army 
and the Nationalist party in Egypt ; and this brings 
us up to the year of our present survey 1882. The 
Nationalist party was not strong ; it was a group which 
had come together in the days when Ismail's rather crude 
interest in European progress had created an expectation 
of experiments in constitutional government. At the 
beginning of 1882 the group had, however, attained some 
importance, because, on the dismissal of the Riaz Ministry, 
Cherif Pasha had been appointed Prime Minister, and he 
had imbibed deeply the idea of constitutional experiments. 
He had therefore persuaded the Khedive to agree to the 
summoning of a Chamber of Notables, one of Ismail's 
schemes, and it met in 1882. The question of how far 
Arabi's movement was a Nationalist one is at the root 
of much of the controversy that has since taken place in 
England. Mr Wilfrid Blunt was in Egypt at this time, and 
he wrote a letter to The Times, published on 6th February, 
in which he asserted that the army had not made a political 


move, and did not intend to make one. At the same time 
the two movements could hardly be kept apart. Arabi 
himself had remarked in a statement of his case that " the 
army was the only power able to protect the growing 
liberty of Egypt " 1 ; and before many months were past 
Mr Blunt was championing Arabi on the widest Nationalist 
grounds. There was indeed some fusion of the two move- 
ments ; and it is traced by Lord Cromer to an unfortunate 
mistake by the British Government. 2 In January 1882 
Gambetta was still in power in France, and his ambition led 
him to try to keep pace with British energy in Egypt. 
He suggested a Joint Note to the Khedive, in which Lord 
Granville, agreeing after some demur to its presentation, 
let pass a phrase harmless enough in appearance but dis- 
astrous in effect. It was this : " The two governments, 
being closely associated in the resolve to guard by their 
united efforts against all cause of complication, internal 
or external, which might menace the order of things 
established in Egypt . . ." etc. Now the Chamber of 
Notables had just met for the first time when the Note was 
presented, and inevitably it saw the word " internal " in 
the phrase just quoted as aimed at itself. In the resent- 
ment thus aroused the Arabists and the Nationalists were 
thrown into one another's arms ; and the tone of the whole 
Note, as thrusting back the Sultan's prerogative in 
Egyptian affairs, took on a deeper colour. At that 
moment Gambetta fell, and confusion was made worse 
confounded by a sudden reversal of French policy. Under 
M. de Freycinet, his successor, the party which believed 
the whole Egyptian question to be a device of Germany's 
for locking up French troops in Egypt prevailed ; the pro- 
pulsion due to Gambetta in the direction of an Anglo-French 
occupation ceased, and was replaced by a policy of inviting 
Turkish intervention. It was a policy singularly difficult 

1 The Times, 3rd January 1882. 

2 Modern Egypt, i. t cap. 13. 


to direct at a time when the earlier policy had been carried 
far enough to irritate the Porte ; but the British Govern- 
ment did its best. A conference of the Powers was in- 
vited to meet at Constantinople, to enter into consultation 
with the Porte with a view to military action by Turkey 
against Arabi under Anglo-French instructions. But the 
Porte at first refused to take part in the consultations ; 
and when at length it did agree to do so, it wasted weeks 
in considering, altering, accepting, and withdrawing from 
the Anglo-French proposals. Meanwhile it had sent two 
more commissioners to Egypt with contradictory in- 
structions, one to repudiate Arabi and the other to 
intrigue with him. Not unnaturally the " nerves " of 
the leading spirits in Egypt grew worse and worse under 
the delay. 

Arabi, suspecting plots against himself, had forty-two 
officers and men arrested on a charge of conspiracy, and 
had Osman Rifki Pasha and forty others exiled to the 
furthest Soudan. The army was out of hand, its pay 
had been increased with no reference to the ability of the 
Budget to provide the money, and officers were being pro- 
moted absurdly. The riots in Alexandria in June, and 
Arabi's feverish entrenchment of himself in the forts, 
showed that the nervousness had become uncontrollable. 
The Powers, not being possessed of nerves, continued to 
confer, but a message was sent from the Sultan ordering 
discontinuance of work on the forts, and England invited 
the Powers generally to send ships to make an inter- 
national demonstration off Alexandria, from which and 
from all the Delta the Christians were taking flight. 
The invitation was not accepted ; and when, a month 
later, Arabi was defying the Sultan and mounting guns 
again in new forts, only a British squadron lay off the 

The public at home, little concerned as to the origin of 
such a situation, waited on the tiptoe of excitement. It 


was not disappointed. At daybreak on 10th July Admiral 
Seymour, in command of the squadron, gave notice that, 
failing Arabi's compliance with the Sultan's orders and 
surrender of the forts within twenty-four hours, he should 
open fire. A night or two before, the ships had suddenly 
turned their electric lights upon the forts, and the startled 
gunners, not knowing but that the new flash might be some 
deadly form of gunnery, stampeded from the batteries. 1 
When the bombardment began on llth July they were far 
from stampeding, and their reply from the forts was not 
ineffective ; they had big and powerful guns to handle. 
But by five o'clock in the afternoon the bombardment had 
done its work, and Arabi's troops were in flight. A certain 
irresoluteness on the part of the British Government 
showed itself in the absence of any orders to the fleet 
beyond the bombardment. No force was landed, and in 
the general disaster of the flight Alexandria was set on fire, 
and immense damage done. However, on the whole the 
policy of merely taking each question as it arose was for 
the present not unsuccessful. When it became clear that 
Turkey's suspicions and dilatoriness were unsurmountable, 
the British Government made ready more ad interim steps. 
Sir Garnet Wolseley was sent out to Egypt before July was 
over, with an expeditionary force, the line taken now being 
the necessity of protecting the Suez Canal, as the Egyptian 
troops were practically at large in the Delta. Arabi had 
in fact written a letter to Mr Gladstone, offering him an 
allied Egypt which would keep open England's road to 
India, but threatening, if he were attacked, to bring about 
a general Mohammedan rising and the destruction of the 

In little more than two years this Government, which 

had come into power to end foreign embroilments, had 

become engaged in war, and involved in a conflict of 

interests as hazardous as any of Beaconsfield's. France, 

1 The Times, xoth July 1882. 


at the time of Wolseley's operations, " resumed her liberty 
of action in Egypt," and England recognised the end of 
the Dual Control 1 ; so that a very present source of inter- 
national disagreement had definitely opened . The measure 
of this distortion of the hopes and intentions of Liberals in 
1880 was given by the resignation of John Bright from the 
Government. He declined on his Quaker principles to be 
a party to the prosecution of war ; and though Mr Glad- 
stone felt that Bright had shown insufficient appreciation 
of the " facts of the case with the obligations that they 
appeared to entail," 2 it is not difficult to see the general 
justification of his action. The mind of England was 
running again on the barren glorifications that he hated. 
The rare spectacle of a fleet in action had stimulated 
popular imagination, and the armoured train with its 
Gatling guns, which was used for reconnaissances from 
Alexandria, was almost like a new toy to the public. Later 
in the year there was great disappointment because the 
authorities refused a request from the City of London that 
British and Indian soldiers from Egypt might be allowed 
to take part in the Lord Mayor's Show. It was 
a condition of popular temper which might well be 
too much for John Bright. Nor could it but confirm 
that detachment of idealistic forces from politics which 
has been mentioned. This Government seemed indeed 
indistinguishable from any other Government ; and Parlia- 
ment had at the same time a curiously helpless aspect. 
A peculiarity of its work just now, which was commented 
upon with some gloom, was the number of temporary 
measures of legislation. 3 The Employers' Liability Act 
of 1880 was to terminate in 1887 ; the Corrupt Practices 
Acts were all limited in duration ; the powers of the Rail- 
way Commissioners were not perpetual ; a measure to 

1 Cromer's Modern Egypt. 

* Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 83. 

8 The Times, i2th July 1882. 


remove restrictions on the negotiation of promissory notes 
was valid for only three years ; a measure dealing with 
habitual drunkards was to remain in force until 1890. 
Parliament seemed to mistrust its own efforts. Moreover 
it did its work with great difficulty, and had to face this 
year a profound alteration of its procedure. Closure of 
debate, so much discussed in the previous year, took shape 
in a new Standing Order permitting the Speaker or Chair- 
man of Committee to bring debate to an end by putting 
the question on a motion being made to that effect, pro- 
vided that division on the motion showed not less than 
two hundred members for the closure, or not less than a 
hundred when the opposition to the motion showed less 
than forty members. It was not a severe resolution, in 
view of later steps of the same kind. Yet it was much 
disliked ; and Lord Randolph Churchill found it a good 
stick for beating the Government. That it was necessary 
is clear enough, when we find the Government programme 
again " carrying over " such measures as the Bankruptcy 
Bill, the County Government Bill, and the Municipality 
of London Bill. Other questions, too, were accumulating 
for Ministers. For instance, several great inland towns 
were pressing for an assimilation of excise procedure with 
that of customs, the grievance being that, whereas at ports 
the customs arrangements allowed " bonding " on a large 
scale, there was no such possibility in inland towns, except 
in some " wet " trades. A few towns Manchester, Leeds, 
Halifax and Bradford were by a fiction treated as ports ; 
other big places like Birmingham, Sheffield and Wolver- 
hampton had no way of " bonding " dry goods. 

However, while idealists were standing so far aloof from 
the proceedings of Parliament, an Act was passed which 
was to give them the widest possible scope in that sphere 
of " administration " which they so much affected the 
Municipal Corporations Act 1882. It did not attract 
notice at the time, being 11 nominally designed for the con- 


solidation of all the amending and supplementary Acts 
which had been passed since the Municipal Corporations 
Act 1835. Some such consolidation was indeed necessary, 
owing to the perpetual accretion of duties under laws like 
the Public Health Act of 1875, the Contagious Diseases 
(Animals) Act 1878, and the Weights and Measures Act 
1878. Moreover reform was still called for in the matter 
of old, sometimes corrupt, corporations which had survived 
the Act of 1835. There were still bodies like the Mayor 
and Burgesses of Dunwich, an almost extinct village, who 
were entitled to receive copies of all public documents 
from the Stationery Office ; the Mayor and Barons of 
Corfe Castle, who had the patronage of a number of 
sinecure salaries ; and the Corporation of New Romney, 
who disposed among themselves of an income of 800 from 
municipal lands. The new Act, by making burgess-ship 
purely a franchise, and not an office, effected a final reform. 
The important feature of the Act, however, was that, while 
specifying the obligatory work of a municipality (such as 
the provision of necessary establishments, the maintenance 
of local police, etc.), the Act did not circumscribe its 
functions. In other words, while setting forth what a 
corporation must do not on any exacting scale it re- 
frained from putting any statutory limit to what it might 
do. The limitations in that respect were judiciously left 
to the natural human objection to paying heavy rates. 
This stroke of peculiarly English genius arouses the en- 
thusiasm of a foreign observer like Professor Redlich. 1 
The things that a corporation might do, instead of being 
subject to the approval of a bureaucratic department, 
remained in the sphere of private bill legislation ; and 
thus Parliament, and not a department, is the final 
authority. The wide democratic franchise under the Act, 
including all ratepayers of twelve months' residence before 
15th July in any year, and not excluding women, pro- 
1 In his book, The Local Government of England. 


vided both a stimulus and a check ; the corporation would 
be anxious to retain the support of the citizens by pro- 
gressive measures, and at the same time any overloading 
of the town with debt would show its result in the ballot 
boxes. " Rate collectors far more than any central Boards 
of Control are the real schoolmasters of municipal policy." l 
In the national life generally the year was marked by a 
return of better temper. Trade was good ; reconsidera- 
tion of rents had somewhat eased the farmer ; the cereal 
harvest was fair, and the root harvest good. The social 
world was enlivened by a greater disposition on the part 
of the Queen to be seen. It may be mentioned in passing 
that the last of the few attempts on her life took place on 
2nd March, when a man, who was subsequently adjudged 
a lunatic, fired a pistol at her as she was driving out of 
Windsor station. There was, it is true, a singularly heavy 
death-roll of notable men. On 3rd January Harrison 
Ainsworth died, out of humour with a world which his 
later novels had failed to attract, and in which he had not 
succeeded as the man of fashion he wished to be. On 4th 
January Bernal Osborne made his exit from a London 
where he had kept alive the witty traditions of the days 
of Alvanley. Dante Gabriel Rossetti died on llth April, 
in the midst of the period when the Pre-Raphaelite move- 
ment was being violently spread abroad by the general 
aesthetic craze. The death of Darwin on 20th April 
brought from abroad such unprecedented appreciations 
of an Englishman's work that this country became con- 
scious in a new way of the achievement represented by the 
evolutionary theory ; and this may account in some degree 
for that outbreak of extreme antagonism between scientific 
research and orthodox theology which reverberated 
through the middle eighties. Dr Pusey died on 17th 
September ; and the occasion served for articles reminding 
a generation much entangled in Ritualist controversies, 
1 Redlich's Local Government, i. 393. 


in the imprisonment of recalcitrant clergymen, that only 
a vulgar confusion could have made the word " Puseyism " 
synonymous with advanced ritualism ; his mystical 
conception of the Church and her work, founded on a 
wonderful knowledge of early Christian writers, remained 
throughout his life indissolubly linked with a piety of the 
Wesleyan rather than the Tractarian spirit. On 4th 
December died a very different Churchman, Archbishop 
Tait. He had had stormy years of rule, yet he preserved 
to the end that belief in a sweet reasonableness which 
he was always ready to apply. His last application of it 
came before public notice within a week of his death. 
He had effected a compromise in the St Alban's case, 
by which Mr Mackonochie was transferred to St Peter's, 
London Docks. It did not in the least conciliate anti- 

In the revival of trade the shortage of gold grew more 
troublesome. Some of the responsibility for it was put 
down to the prosperity of the working classes, which caused 
" a large absorption of gold " ; and it was this aspect of the 
problem which brought to the front this year a proposal 
for issuing one-pound Bank of England notes. Another 
aspect which worried the financial authorities was the 
question of meeting the wear and tear of the gold currency. 
Short supplies of the metal caused the coins to remain 
long in circulation ; and the result was that the currency 
was falling dangerously in real value. This point, however, 
may be postponed until the time when the Treasury at 
last attacked it. The South African goldfields were com- 
ing more into the public eye ; there had been a " rush " 
to the De Kaap fields, and " placer " mining was not un- 
successful. But the men with money were showing them- 
selves more cautious than the men without, although it 
was pretty well known that only mining on a large scale, 
with heavy machinery, could work the deposits thoroughly. 
For the time being fortunes were made in other ways. 


Nitrates just then were making millionaires ; and the ex- 
perience of American farmers in fattening stock was causing 
almost a boom here in oilcake, and new speculations 
in cotton-seed oil works. 

It is not, after all, these signs of a solid prosperity that 
most give the year its air of better spirits. That is to be 
found rather in such a revelation as is provided by the 
immense and serious interest taken in the removal of 
Jumbo to America. Jumbo was the great elephant at the 
Zoological Gardens the largest that had ever been seen 
out of the native lands of elephants but he might have 
been thought to be otherwise an ordinary elephant until 
it was suddenly announced at the end of January that 
Barnum, an American showman, had bought him for 
2000, and was going to transport him across the water. 
The whole nation was stirred. Some disputed furiously 
as to whether he had or had not been a difficult animal to 
handle, and whether his keeper's statement that his temper 
had grown queer was or was not a mere excuse to cover his 
removal. Others, equally serious, called in question the 
legal right of the " Zoo " to dispose of animals without 
obtaining in some way the consent of the nation. Lighter- 
hearted folk jested, often as ponderously as the subject 
could require ; songs sprang up in the streets, and Jumbo 
practically filled the ordinary man's mind until, two months 
later, the departure took place. It was described as 
fully as if it had been the departure of a prince. The 
adventures of the enormous crate in which Jumbo was 
drawn to the docks by a long string of horses, the quarters 
provided for him on board ship, were all set forth by every 
newspaper in the land ; and Lady Burdett-Coutts went 
on board to give him his last London bun. The public's 
cheerful readiness to be amused had another opportunity 
in August, when Cetewayo came to England. Responsible 
people were shaking their heads about his visit, and it had, 
in fact, been once postponed ; it was not long since he and 


his Zulu people had been in arms against us, and the 
question of his restoration to the chieftainship, which he 
undoubtedly hoped to forward by his visit, caused some 
nervousness. But London only saw in him a stout, genial, 
black potentate, whose bellicose prestige they could 
pardon because, if it had cost the English something to 
beat him, he had at any rate very handsomely worried the 
Boers. So people gathered in crowds at Melbury House, 
Kensington, where he stayed, to see him drive out. He paid 
visits to both the Queen and the Prince of Wales ; and he 
managed to keep up his imperturbability until he was taken 
to Woolwich Arsenal, and then he confessed that he had 
really been overwhelmed with astonishment at the sights 
and sounds and resources of England ever since he had 

The newest marvels of civilisation were continuing their 
advances. The year is notable in the history of electric 
lighting for the fact that a new step, described by Professor 
Sylvanus Thompson in a scientific lecture in March, had 
been taken by the invention of " little electric lamps made 
by enclosing in glass bulbs thin wires of platinum or thin 
strips of carbon which on the passage of an electric current 
grow white hot " 1 ; the importance of the invention for 
domestic lighting was at once seen. The immediate sequel 
was a series of disputes as to patents between rival in- 
ventors, chiefly Mr Edison and Mr Swan. The use of arc 
lamps for street lighting had meanwhile so thoroughly 
established itself (Birmingham, Brighton, Canterbury, 
Newbury, Sheffield and East London had installed it) that 
the great corporations, led by Manchester, were on the 
alert against possible monopolies; and the Government 
had in hand an Electric Lighting Bill designed to regulate 
the foundation of companies. The Bill ultimately included 
a clause giving local authorities power of compulsory 
purchase of electric light undertakings at the end of twenty- 
1 The Times, i8th March 1882. 


one years. The telephone was conquering long distances ; 
in July experiments were made in speaking from Brussels 
to Paris, and in December a line was working between 
Brighton and London. But as yet the National Telephone 
Company's revenue was no more than 27,000 in the 
year, and its profits 4217. 1 Tramway experiments moved 
more slowly ; a car, worked from accumulators under the 
seats, was tried at Leytonstone in March. A minor in- 
vention of the year which should not miss a place in this 
record is the fountain pen ; the stylograph had been in 
use for some time, but late in this year descriptions were 
published of the application of the reservoir principle to 
a pen with a detachable double-pointed nib. 2 Nor need 
one hesitate to attach to the march of progress the tenta- 
tive prominence attained this year by the advocates of 
" rational dress." A lecture in February by Mr Frederick 
Treves on the unhygienic dress of women was followed in 
March by an exhibition organised by the National Health 
Society of hygienic dresses, the patterns being gathered 
chiefly from America and Germany ; they included 
" divided skirts," but the mocker was not yet aroused. 

So much indeed was progress in the air that the 
Londoner's dissatisfaction with his own local government 
grew acute. A month could not pass without some com- 
plaint either against vestries or against the Metropolitan 
Board of Works ; of the former this one or that was slow 
to lay down wooden paving (1880 had seen much activity 
in that work), while the latter was attacked because of the 
smell of sewers, or petty interference with private building 
projects. From this atmosphere of complaint about the 
merest trivialities of local control the Londoner looked 
out and saw the provincial corporations, not niggling over 
petty duties, but launching out into all sorts of public 
services. He found himself under a form of government 

1 The Times, ipth August 1882.- 
1 Ditto, 6th December 1882.- 


which derived no fresh strength from the new Municipal 
Corporations Act, because it was not a corporation ; and 
for the same reason had but the meanest responsibility 
towards the citizens. The demand for a municipality oi 
London became therefore one of the items of regular appear- 
ance in political speeches of this time. It happened that 
the autumn provided two striking examples of the courage 
of provincial corporations. In October the Manchester 
Ship Canal project first became of interest to the country 
at large ; Alderman Bosdin Leech, of that city, was 
writing letters to the Press to enlist the public attention. 
The scheme was unanimously approved at a town's meet- 
ing held in Manchester on 14th November, and although 
there was naturally some apprehension as to the cost of 
the undertaking, the prospect of direct importation of 
goods to Manchester was a powerful argument, especially 
as only in the previous year the cotton trade had been 
seriously hampered by a " cornering " of cotton in Liver- 
pool, and a period of gambling which had raised the price 
of raw cotton by 10 to 20 per cent. The other piece of 
remarkable municipal energy was the progress of the 
scheme for supplying Liverpool with water from the Welsh 
hills; the laying of the great mains through Delamere 
Forest at the end of this year was a picturesque period of 
the work. But the provincial corporations were by now 
influencing the community in more subtle ways than these. 
A great Art and Industrial Exhibition was held this year in 
Manchester ; and William Morris, speaking at the opening 
ceremony, was able to point to a general improvement in 
industrial art. The work of all the local schools of manual 
art, which had slowly been established in the large 
industrial centres, of the Workmen's Institutes, the 
Athenaeums, and other such places, was beginning to 
tell. A Royal Commission was sitting, which, imper- 
fectly appreciated though it was at the time, ended by 
altering entirely the aims and scope of national education 


the Commission on Technical Instruction. It was 
the recognition of all the local schools, and so the first 
step towards their expansion into a system of higher 

General Wolseley did not keep the nation waiting 
long for news from Egypt. Moving rapidly, he attacked 
Arabi at Tel-el-Kebir on 13th September one of the 
notable night attacks of military history inflicting a 
complete defeat on his troops, and taking him prisoner, 
with other leaders of his army. No memory remained 
now of a Nationalist character in the movement ; Arabi 
was called a mere military adventurer, Egypt had had 
to be " rescued from him," his foot had been " on her 
throat " ; and a general impression that the war was over 
led to the commutation a few months later of the sentence 
of death passed upon Arabi by the court martialjn Cairo 
on 3rd December. He and six of his associates l^t Egypt 
for exile on 26th December. It seemed that the Govern- 
ment, pottering on from point to point, had come out of 
the business fairly well after all. They directed their agent 
in Cairo, now Lord Dufferin, to proceed with a rehabilita- 
tion of Egyptian finances in view of a speedy withdrawal 
of the British troops. But their lack of a clear purpose 
in Egypt showed itself now in the fact that, while speaking 
of withdrawal, they were lending an ear to considerations 
which could not possibly be reconciled with withdrawal. 
Upper Egypt was the last great stronghold, it was thought, 
of slavery, and the licences to trade in the Soudan, which 
were issued by the Egyptian Government, were more or 
less open licences for slave-raiding. Consequently even 
those Liberals who had been least inclined to continue a 
policy of interference in Lower Egypt now began to con- 
fuse Mr Gladstone's mind by pressing upon him duties 
in Upper Egypt. We miss much of the difficulty of 
the Egyptian struggles of the next few years, and the true 
nature of Gordon's mission to Khartoum, unless we see 


that Mr Gladstone's lack of any real interest in the Egypt- 
ian question rendered him peculiarly open to conflicting 
impulsions from different sections of his followers. The 
suppression of slavery was an old ideal, and the zeal to 
pursue it in the Soudan is one of the reasons why Tel-el- 
Kebir^ is the beginning, and not the end, of a story. 
Another reason had recently been causing anxiety in Egypt 
itself. Just at the time when Arabi's movement had been 
growing strongest in Cairo, in August 1881, a man in the 
Soudan had proclaimed himself Mahdi an assumption of 
direct spiritual kinship with Mohammed, and divine in- 
spiration and the universal hatred there of the Egyptian 
Government secured him an immediate following. But 
no real knowledge of what was going on in Upper Egypt 
prevailed among those well-intentioned people who were 
pressing the slave trade upon Mr Gladstone's attention. 

On thftwhole the year ended not amiss for him and his 
colleagues, and the foundation of the National Liberal Club 
at a large meeting on 5th November was an enthusiastic 
mustering of new forces. In Ireland the Crimes Act, put- 
ting an end to those activities of the Land League which 
had survived in the Ladies' Land League, had been helped 
in its effect by the loss of heart in the Irish party after the 
Phoenix Park murders. It may be mentioned here, since 
Patrick Egan rendered his accounts of the Land League 
funds to Parnell in October of this year, that the League 
ha&Jhandled the sum of 244,820. Of this, in round 
figures, 50,000 had gone to relief of distress ; 15,000 
to the expenses of trials ; 148,000 had been spent by 
the League and the Ladies' League in support of evicted 
tenants, the erection of wooden houses for them, defence 
against ejectments, etc. 1 The cases of agrarian crime 
now fell from 4439 in 1881 to 3432 in 1882 ; but the 
true state of the case is better shown by the fact that for 
1883 the figures dropped with a run to 870. We see 
1 Parnell Commissioners' Report, p. 96. 


Mr Gladstone himself, according to one of his Cabinet, 
taking a " couleur-de-rose view " of the condition of Ire- 
land. 1 Egypt appeared to have been successfully dealt 
with ; and the summing up of the Government's position 
on the traditional occasion of the Guildhall Banquet was 
that they had done well, and that the Conservatives had 
no good fighting ground ; Lord Randolph Churchill's 
" Balaclava charges " were magnificent, but not war. 2 
The autumn and winter were singularly free from labour 
troubles. In the early part of the year there had been 
some anxiety in London ; a large deputation of unemployed 
men waited upon the Lord Mayor, representing printers, 
carpenters, bricklayers, painters, warehousemen, navvies 
and smiths. Except in its combination of a number of 
unrelated trades, this deputation hardly amounted to the 
faintest mutter of the storms of a few years later ; and the 
winter brought no distressing signs of lack of employment. 
The vitality of the Socialist movement was, however, 
apparent in the revival of the newspaper Freiheit, in spite 
of a general refusal of printing firms to publish it. At the 
same time the prosecution of a paper called The Free- 
thinker on a charge of blasphemous libel was attended by 
comments which showed that even the respectable world 
was inclined to think that it was a mistake to aim at 
suppressing such organs of opinion. " Whether from 
growth of charity, or indifference, or perplexity, or ex- 
perience of the mischievousness of persecution," The 
Times remarked, " most men are not inclined to put in 
prison the apostles of the views which they most detest, 
and they are rather at a loss what to do with persecuting 
laws which remain unrepealed." 3 The socialists, fighting 
for their own freedom of speech, have often since fought 
for freedom in other than political matters ; and in the 

1 Holland's Life of the Duke of Devonshire, i. 369. 
1 The Times, loth November 18821 
8 i pth July 1882. 


struggles of the eighties for the liberty of street-corner 
meetings socialism and irreligion were confused together, 
as we have already seen them confused in the case of Mr 
Bradlaugh's seat in Parliament. 

A subject which attained no little public discussion in the 
autumn of 1882 was the idea of cremating the dead. Two 
persons who died about that time had left instructions 
in their wills that their bodies were to be burned. No 
facilities existed for carrying out the instructions ; never- 
theless the bodies were burned, and the subject continued 
to be so much written about that within a few years the 
difficulties experienced in regard to these early cremations 
were entirely removed. 



AS the Government's tenure of office extended, it 
became more and more clear that the Liberal 
victory of 1880 had been due rather to a revulsion 
from Disraelian policy than to any arraying by the Liberal 
leaders of the progressive forces of the country. By this 
time the temporary bond had fallen asunder, and the year 
was marked in every direction by a futile restlessness. The 
Egyptian question had brought about a coolness with 
France, an atmosphere in which any subject of dispute 
might become very dangerous. The Irish question reeked 
once more of dynamite. The forces of social reform and 
moral effort moved in a world agitated by strikes, and 
those of material reform saw the spectre of cholera looming 
across the waste of bad housing and sanitary deficiencies. 

The " resumption of liberty " in Egypt, which had been 
the French attitude towards the bombardment of Alexan- 
dria, revealed itself in certain respects at the beginning of 
the year in Cairo as a complete breaking up of the Control. 
Unfortunately Baring, who had displayed a peculiar gift 
for investing the Control with a loose working equipment 
in which points of punctilio could not arise, was in India. 1 
He did not return to Egypt until June 1883. Meanwhile 
a quarrel was brewing in regard to the Suez Canal. The 
irritation of shipowners at what they regarded as excessive 
levies for the passage of the Canal had issued in a proposal 
that application should be made to the Khedive for a 
concession for a second canal, parallel with the existing one, 
1 He was Financial Member of the Viceroy's Council: 


the idea being rendered plausible by the argument that 
in any case the amount of the traffic demanded a second 
waterway. This, however, did not help the shipowners, for 
M. de Lesseps, the builder of the existing canal, claimed a 
monopoly for his enterprise, and a prior right to any con- 
cession for a second ; he had a draft agreement in readiness 
for its construction at a cost of eight millions. 1 The 
French authorities saw in the proposal another sign of 
England's determination to secure to herself every advan- 
tage in Egypt, by tricking them out of their chief remaining 
source of power there. Towards the close of the year the 
dispute took a different direction, the English demand 
being now for the acceptance by the Suez Canal Board of an 
advisory committee of shipowners. De Lesseps was him- 
self in England at the time, and was being entertained in 
Manchester, where the citizens hoped for the support of his 
name for the Ship Canal project. He avoided committing 
himself to that ; and took instead every opportunity of 
insisting upon the autonomy of the Suez Canal Board. 
It was, indeed, a period of bad blood between the two 
nations in which an amicable settlement of such a question, 
however much either side may have had its legitimate 
grievances, was impracticable. In July there was an ugly 
outburst of feeling in England, caused by rumours that the 
French flag had been hoisted in the New Hebrides ; the 
demand was instantly raised that the New Hebrides should 
be formally annexed to Australia, and that, to make 
complete use of the opportunity, New Guinea should be 
annexed at the same time. Barely a week later reports 
reached England of the arrest of a British subject by a 
French admiral at Tamatave, in Madagascar. The island 
had been under French influence for two hundred years, 
but this treatment of it as a French possession was not to 
be allowed to pass. Luckily the British subject, who had 
been deported to Reunion, was released six weeks later, 
1 The Times, 24th July 1883. 


and that incident was closed. 1 It may be noted here that 
the state of our relations with France in 1883 settled a 
question which of late years had agitated a good many 
minds. Early in 1881 the scheme for a tunnel under the 
Channel to connect England and France by railway had 
made a sudden advance. Borings had been undertaken 
at Dover, and as a result detailed estimates of cost had 
been made possible. Now the English military authorities , 
headed by Sir Garnet Wolseley, declared against the 
project ; they said they could not assure the country 
against invasion by the tunnel, and an Anti-Channel- 
Tunnel Association was formed . The promoters, however, 
went forward, and introduced a private Bill into Parlia- 
ment, which came before a Joint Committee of the two 
Houses in April 1883. It reported in July against the Bill, 
though not unanimously. The military evidence had 
carried the day. 2 

The distortion which had been given to the Irish 
situation by the Phoenix Park murders only became fully 
apparent in this year. In Ireland itself difficulties 
diminished ; the statistics of agrarian crime fell, as has 
already been mentioned, to 870 ; evictions fell from 5201 
to 3643 ; and agitation by speeches and all the forms 
of boycotting diminished greatly. But alarm and panic 
shifted to England ; dynamite explosions occurred in 
London, and there were a number of seizures of explosives 
by the police. The " Kilmainham Treaty " had been 
disliked by the Clan-na-Gael ; and Parnell's attitude after 
the Phoenix Park murders would have led to an open 
repudiation of him but for his useful gift of never being 
agreeable to the English. 3 We have seen that he had felt 
in Kilmainham gaol the danger of leaving the field to less 
cautious persons ; and the helplessness that overwhelmed 

1 The Times, ist September 1883. 

1 Ditto, i gth July 1883. 

Barry O'Brien's Life of Parnell, i. 377.' 


him at the news of the Phoenix Park murders prevented his 
recovering his influence over the Clan-na-Gael . Therefore, 
while he could and did moderate the pace of agitation in 
Ireland, he had lost for the moment his general hold on 
violence ; and the London explosions were the result. 
It was the Invincibles' year, and it opened with one of the 
most famous dramatic moments in criminal records. The 
Crimes Act of 1882 had rendered possible processes of 
arrest which had placed under lock and key a number of 
men suspected of complicity in the Phoenix Park murders. 
By the middle of January nineteen men were in detention. 
Two informers had given assistance to the police, but the 
prisoners did not really fear the evidence of these two. 
Then, as they filed into the dock one day during the pre- 
liminary proceedings, they saw one of their own number 
divert his steps, and their defiant confidence was over. 
The scene when James Carey took the witness-stand has 
been described by more capable pens, and need not be 
retold here. His evidence convicted six men, and two 
pleaded guilty. Six were sentenced to death, but the 
sentence on one was commuted. Five men were hanged, 
Brady, Curley, Fagan, Kelly and Caffrey ; and Delaney, 
Mullet and Fitzharris were sent to penal servitude for life. 
The Invincibles were not men to sink into obscurity after 
such events. Throughout the first half of the year they 
were the bogey at which suburban England continued to 
shiver. The newspapers canvassed the identity of the 
terrible " Number One," who had appeared in the Kilmain- 
ham evidence to be a power horribly supreme. The British 
Government made friendly representations to the Govern- 
ment of the United States on thehatchingof Irish-American 
plots in that country ; Fenian brotherhoods were reported 
to be devoting Sunday excursions up the Hudson River to 
the amiable purpose of experimenting with explosives. The 
Home Office stimulated local authorities in England to a 
more vigorous search for dynamite, and more alertness to 


its possible manufacture in their districts ; and prohibited 
in the public interest an exhibition of explosives which 
was to have been held in all innocence in Sheffield. On 
the top of all this the Invincibles showed that the popular 
notion of their organisation was not exaggerated . On July 
30th a man, who had attracted no notice among his fellow- 
passengers, was shot dead on board a liner which had just 
reached East London, Natal. He was Carey the Informer. 
The police protection which had sufficed to screen him 
entirely from the eyes of the world at large, and ship him 
off in complete secrecy to South Africa, had not saved him 
from the Invincibles. Beside this coup their other vio- 
lences of the year seemed almost tame. On 15th March 
an explosion took place at the Local Government Board 
offices ; it caused no loss of life or serious injury, and not 
much damage to any part of the building beyond the 
windows ; but it remains a famous explosion, because it 
was the return of a terror that men had begun to forget. 
On 30th October two explosions occurred on the Under- 
ground Railway, one at Praed Street Station, and one 
between Charing Cross and Westminster. In both cases 
some persons were injured, but no one was killed. 

If Pamell had lost his grip on this current of Irish 
agitation, he had certainly not lost the confidence of Ire- 
land. It became known during this year that in his zeal 
for the cause he had let his family estates and his own 
financial position become heavily encumbered. A public 
subscription was set on foot, and it acquired a more than 
passing interest, because it was the means of bringing into 
public notice what has been known as the Errington 
incident. In 1881 the English Government had had the 
curious notion of getting aid from the Vatican in dealing 
with Ireland. At first the idea was only that the Vatican 
might restrain priests in Ireland from supporting agitation ; 
and Mr Gladstone, in a letter to Cardinal Newman, 
expressed the opinion that it was the Pope's positive duty 


to exercise this restraint. 1 With that object, documents 
detailing the attitude of certain priests had been conveyed 
to Rome by Mr George Errington, an Irish Roman Catholic 
gentleman, who had gone there for the purpose. He was 
not, Mr Gladstone was careful to explain, an official 
emissary, but a volunteer in the matter. However, as he 
had gone with letters from Lord Granville, and as his 
despatches were deposited in the Foreign Office, the dis- 
tinction is insignificant. It would be hard to find any real 
difference between the position of Mr Errington at Rome 
in 1881 and the position of, say, Lord Odo Russell in the 
late sixties. No representative of the British Government 
could be acknowledged an " official " representative at the 
Vatican, since that would have implied a recognition of the 
temporal power of the Pope. But just as Lord Odo Russell 
was to all intents and purposes a Minister Plenipotentiary, 
so Mr Errington was an Envoy Extraordinary in all but the 
name. Cardinal Newman had held out little encourage- 
ment to Mr Gladstone to look for Papal intervention, and 
none came at that time. It did come in 1883, in connection 
with this national tribute to Parnell, and the result of it 
showed that the Vatican's first decision had been the wiser. 
A Papal rescript against the tribute was issued. Up to 
that moment the sum collected had been 7000, and six 
months after the rescript it was 37,000. Mr Gladstone in 
after days told Mr Barry O'Brien that the acceptance by 
the Government of the Errington mission had been chiefly 
due to Lord Spencer. 2 

The influence of the Irish question on the Parliamentary 
year of 1883 was rather indirect. The obstruction of recent 
years had been met for the moment with the Closure 
resolutions ; but the effect of it had gone deeper than the 
immediate result. The House, in long and trying sessions, 
had been feeling that it must strike out some new lines of 

1 Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 52. 

2 Barry O'Brien's Life of Parnell, ii. 26. 


dividing its work, if it was to have time for real discussions 
of policy. It had the high ideal of not bounding its view 
by the legislative necessities of the day : " Parliament is 
not merely a legislative body. It is the Grand Inquest of 
the nation charged, in addition to its legislative duties, 
with the custody of Imperial interests, and called upon to 
lead and to form the public opinion of the tune. 1 " The 
institution of Grand Committees, to relieve the House of 
some of its work, was the first attempt of Parliament to 
keep its head, so to speak, above water. These Committees, 
empanelled by the Committee of Selection, were two in 
number the Grand Committee on Law and the Grand 
Committee on Trade. 2 They were sanctioned by the 
Commons in 1882, but went to work for the first tune in 
1883, relieving the House of the necessity under which it 
had hitherto laboured of forming itself into committee 
on every Bill other than a private Bill. By the new ar- 
rangement a considerable quantity of work was delegated. 
Two other attempts to save time were now in progress. 
In 1882 a Department of Agriculture had been proposed, 
and in 1883 a Department for Scotland was a prominent 
subject of discussion, Both were the butts for somewhat 
easy sarcasm ; the Board of Agriculture, it was said, would 
not know what to do with itself, and as for a Department 
for Scotland, there was not more logical reason for setting 
it up than for setting up a Department for Yorkshire. 
However, the scheme went forward ; and Lord Rosebery's 
assistance in working out the details was perhaps his first 
important public service. For the rest Parliament had but 
a stale bill of fare. Bankruptcy legislation was still before 
it, a reforming Act being passed this year ; County Govern- 
ment (with its attendant subjects of London Municipal 

1 The Times, 6th January 1881; 

8 The committees were not altogether invented at this time. 
Sir T. Erskine May found precedents, upon which the committees 
were designed; 


reform, and especially a reform of the water supply author- 
ity) and the county franchise had not yet been touched. 
The last was the most vital of the subjects, for Lord Ran- 
dolph Churchill was devoting himself to it. He was argu- 
ing that the enfranchisement of the agricultural labourer 
was not called for, even by the labourer himself, and that 
a rearrangement of boroughs and a redistribution of seats 
would be the truer franchise reform at the moment. 1 The 
failure of the Affirmation Bill of this session has been 
recorded 2 ; it was the last expenditure of the time of this 
Parliament on the controversy that had arisen about Mr 
Bradlaugh's right to take his seat. In spite of Mr Glad- 
stone's eloquence, in spite of a widely spread feeling that it 
was unwise to mix dislike of Mr Bradlaugh's opinions with 
the general question of preserving in Parliament a religious 
test which had elsewhere disappeared, the Bill was rejected 
on 3rd May. But at least this particle of good resulted 
that there was agreement henceforth to leave time to do 
the work time and the ultimate disappearance of condi- 
tions in which the question was useful to an Opposition 
somewhat poorly equipped. How ready the Opposition 
was to adopt weapons from any quarter is seen in their 
immediate following of the Liberals' idea of a huge political 
club, which should give the social amenities of such insti- 
tutions to men of political inclinations who could not hope 
for admission to the older clubs. Two months after the 
meeting for the promotion of the National Liberal Club, 
one was held by the Conservatives to found the Constitu- 
tional Club. Both places may be, and have been, regarded 
cynically by those of Pall Mall and St James's Street. 
The historian's interest in them is that they were the first 
clubs in which considerations other than those of social 
fitness were recognised in the election of candidates, and 
in which political opinions became a qualification. 3 

1 The Times, i2th April 1883. 8 See p. 41. 

8 The Carlton and the Reform, though broadly Tory and Liberal, 
do not technically require the holding of certain political opinions 


It is remarkable that the year saw no fewer than eight 
Sunday Closing Bills before Parliament, three of them 
applicable to the whole country and five to separate 
localities. This, like the growing strength of the Local 
Veto movement, is an interesting reminder that the Blue 
Ribbon Army was at the time making great strides. It had 
been founded in 1878 on the model of an organisation 
which had been very successful in the United States. Mr 
William Noble, who had for some years before that date 
been a prominent platform speaker in the cause of temper- 
ance, on returning from a tour in the States enlisted the 
interest of several philanthropists and took the Standard 
Theatre, Shoreditch, which was then untenanted. His 
ardent zeal was so contagious that for nearly two years, 
from February 1878 till January 1880, he continued to fill 
that place with audiences ; and when he was compelled to 
leave it, because of its approaching demolition, the Blue 
Ribbon Army was already a great force, and the pledge 
cards used by Mr Noble were in demand all over the 
country. English distaste for the parading of opinions 
must have been undergoing curious modifications when it 
was possible to note, among the striking events of a year, 
the spread of two such organisations as the Blue Ribbon 
Army and the Salvation Army. 1 The latter, indeed, was 
fighting its way in a very literal sense. We have already 
had occasion to note the hostility it called forth, and an 
actual organisation of a sort had arisen to combat it. The 
" Skeleton Army " has been forgotten now ; it appeared 
in 1883, fighting the Salvation Army outside the Eagle 
Tavern in the City Road, and these encounters occurred 
persistently, Sunday after Sunday. Both the Salvation 
Army and the Blue Ribbon Army (and we may perhaps 

as a qualification. Brooks's, again, is broadly Liberal, but that 
is a survival of its original character as the Whigs' Club, and 
Whiggism was always as much a social as a political qualification. 
1 The Times, joth December 1882. 


mention with these the missions of Moody and Sankey, 
who returned to England in 1883, and were in Liverpool 
and Manchester in March and in London in November) 
were elements in that reconsideration of a nation's duty 
towards its less fortunate members, which was replacing 
the individualism of the great industrial expansion. Crude 
as the Salvation Army's methods appeared, the way for 
educated people to meet them was seen to be by doing the 
work better ; and this was more than an intellectual retort. 
The death of Arnold Toynbee, on llth March 1883, served 
to bring to light suddenly a whole world of sociological 
enthusiasm, of zeal and affection for the unfortunate, 
which had been steadily modifying the trend of politico- 
economical thought; and when the knowledge of Toynbee's 
own efforts turned men's minds to the poorer parts of our 
great cities, it was with the result of making them conclude 
that the Church of England was not behindhand in the new 
spirit, and that " in forty years the clergy had advanced 
immensely in public esteem," by their devotion to the 
practical as well as the spiritual work at their doors. Two 
distinct lines of thought were, in fact, tending towards the 
same end. The spiritual revival which began with Wesley 
and Whitefield, as an evangelising movement not parochial 
in its scope, had been followed by the more parochial, 
because more strictly canonical, revivalism of the Oxford 
Tractarians. While the religious spirit of the universities 
had been thus modified, the philosophical outlook under- 
went a change almost as profound under the domination 
of T. H. Green. He had but lately died on 26th March 
1882 and his lectures had been spoken of at his death as 
"the very heart of the philosophical education of Oxford." l 
The effect of his work had been to quicken the sense of 
social responsibility, and to raise up a school which both 
hastened the distrust of the old individualism, and pre- 
sented a very guarded front to the new theories which the 
1 The Times, 2/th March 1882.- 


popular mind was summing up in the phrase " the survival 
of the fittest." The forces that came into view on the 
death of Arnold Toynbee therefore were combined forces 
of religious and secular impulse, and this dual character 
has continued to be displayed in the Social Settlement 
movement that arose with the foundation of Toynbee 
Hall in 1884. There was, indeed, an earlier settlement 
in existence. The Ancoats Brotherhood had been founded 
in 1877 in Manchester by a devoted citizen, Mr Charles 
Rowley. It was not specifically a University settlement, 
but drew upon the services of any one who could be 
attracted to the work. It was an isolated enterprise, 
and not until after the death of Toynbee can there be 
said to have been a Settlement movement. The move- 
ment crystallises for us several of the somewhat inchoate 
aspirations of a new day. The settlements were to be 
centres in the poorest parts of great cities for the dis- 
semination of that humaner education without which 
the improved conditions that were the workman's goal 
would be but a barren achievement. They were to 
help the educated classes to see that a sound Liberalism 
must hope, not to raise the working man out of his class 
but to produce a community of mental outlook between 
classes. They were to help the masses of the poor to see 
in knowledge their truest leadership, and to learn to 
distinguish between knowledge and frothy acquisition 
of political dogmas. Thus the Settlement movement 
was partly, at least, the reply of the intellectual middle 
class to the attitude of the artist-socialists. " Radical- 
ism," William Morris wrote in this year, "is made by 
and for the middle classes ; they will have no objection 
to its political development, if they think they can 
stop it there ; but as to real social changes they will 
not allow them if they can help it." And again : " It is 
obvious that the support to be looked for for constructive 
socialism from the working classes at present is nought 


. . . What we want is real leaders, themselves working 
men, and content to be so till classes are abolished. But 
you see when a man has gifts for that kind of thing he 
finds himself tending to rise out of his class." x University 
settlements were the denial of both of these positions. 
Such advances as the Socialist movement made in 1883 
were not spectacular. Some knowledge of the propa- 
gandist work that was being done may be gathered 
from the fact that late in August the question of the 
power of public authorities to prohibit meetings in such 
places as the London parks was being raised. Nervous- 
ness about these meetings was certainly growing, assisted 
perhaps by the dynamite explosions, which had nothing 
to do with them; for, when it was announced that the 
site of the disused Tothill Fields prison at Westminster 
had been bought by the Roman Catholics for their 
cathedral, the Government was sharply criticised for not 
keeping the site as a central depot for troops in case of 
rioting. Something of the same nervousness is visible 
also in the withdrawal of several members from the Cobden 
Club this year, because of the admission of one or two 
foreign politicians " of an advanced, not to say revolution- 
ary, character." 2 But though the socialists were clearly 
mustering some of the unemployed waste lives of London 
streets, they were not yet definitely mobilising them. In 
January Louise Michel came to England to lecture on the 
oppression and sweating of women in France, and to urge 
English people not to let the education of the girls of the 
working classes fall behind that of the boys. She spoke, 
as it happened, at a moment when women in this country 
had achieved a notable amelioration of their status. The 
Married Women's Property Act came into force at the 
beginning of this year, abolishing the old system under 
which a woman's property passed on her marriage into 

1 Mackail's Life of William Morris, ii. 103, 1 1 n 
The Times, i8th June 1883; 



her husband's control. Henceforward a married woman 
could hold property and carry on business in her own 
right. One of the minor effects of the measure was to 
give particular interest to the debate on a Woman Suffrage 
Bill introduced by a private member in July. The question 
arose whether married women were also to have this form 
of liberty, but the mover of the Bill repudiated any such 
intention, confining his proposals to single women who 
would be able to qualify as householders. The Bill was 
rejected by a majority of 16 in a House of 245 members. 
Meanwhile the advanced woman was interested in a subject 
which came to be attached, like a kind of label, to the 
feminist movement a Rational Dress Association, with 
Lady Harberton as a moving spirit, offered prizes for a 
design of a suitable knickerbocker costume for women. 

One of the most prominent items in the programme of 
social reform, the better housing of the poor and the 
destruction of insanitary areas, was forced upon public 
attention this year by a scare which was to be repeated in 
ensuing summers. Early in July the ravages of cholera 
in Egypt grew alarming. The disease did not on this 
occasion spread as far north in Europe as it did in a later 
year ; but our traffic with Egypt was sufficient to cause 
the issue of most stringent regulations in this country. 
These were aimed less at setting up quarantine than at 
making the amplest provision for dealing with any cases 
that might make their appearance here, the idea being 
that, if energy went too much to quarantine preparations, 
which could hardly be relied upon to exclude infection 
absolutely, we might be caught behind the barriers with 
inadequate isolation arrangements. A Cholera Bill was 
hurriedly passed through Parliament ; in effect it con- 
stituted the local managers of the Metropolitan Asylums 
Board separate authorities under the Public Health Act, 
and it suspended certain Acts of Parliament and extended 
others so as to give the fullest powers everywhere for 


making hospital provision. The more lasting result of the 
alarms was a new concern in this country for sanitation 
in every town, and especially in the ports. In November 
Sir William Forwood was calling the attention of the 
Liverpool Corporation to the fact that there were at that 
moment 15,000 houses in that town, containing 60,000 
people, which were all unfit for human habitation. At this 
time no section of the community was under any responsi- 
bility in the matter of house sanitation, nor was any 
authority charged with enforcing a general standard. In 
1880 there was a proposal to set up in London a society 
which should provide for its members, at a subscription of 
a guinea, expert inspection of the drainage of their houses ; 
and peculiar point was given to the proposal a few months 
later by a doctor, who related the disastrous processes by 
which he had discovered that his own house, in one of the 
wealthy quarters of London and on an estate which had 
been developed not haphazard, but deliberately as a region 
of the well-to-do, was actually not connected with the main 
sewers, but was built over old cesspools. 1 Medical men 
generally were disturbing the public apathy in such mat- 
ters. The bacterial theory was a fresh and forcible ally ; 
and in 1883, even before the cholera alarm spread, the pro- 
blem of housing and sanitation was being attacked from a 
new angle that of the infectious nature of tuberculosis. 

One reason, no doubt, for the advance which medical 
opinion was making in affairs of public health was the 
feeling a somewhat complacent feeling, perhaps that 
this was a scientific age. The same spirit which put 
Agnosticism and Religion into the lists, and watched them 
fight out their battles in the public prints, predisposed men 
to attend to the gospel of the doctors. The theory of the 
survival of the fittest justified every exhortation to being 
on the side of the fit. Incidentally it sent the Londoner 
and his country cousin to gaze at a creature exhibited this 
1 The Times , 2oth April 1881. 


year at the Westminster Aquarium, a very hairy child 
brought from the territory north of Siam and said to have 
a slight tail ! To call this creature " the missing link " 
was enough to make it the talk of the town. The Aquarium 
was still prospering in the curious career which made it 
in itself a historical link. Some of the old free promenad- 
ing and some of the old impropriety of Ranelagh and 
Vauxhall lingered in its large spaces and its vague 
atmosphere of side-shows ; while the performances of 
such people as " Zaeo," who was much advertised during 
1880 and 1881 in the programme on the central stage, was 
a sign of the changes that were turning the old cellars 
and halls of song into the modern variety music-hall. The 
Aquarium clung to its character, and thereby to its public, 
even though the music-halls had developed entirely on 
their own lines. Mere singing no longer sufficed for their 
programmes. They had even a public which made them 
rebel, at this date, against the restrictions preventing them 
from producing stage plays 1 ; and which caused the 
observant to reflect on the division of classes which was 
growing up in amusements as in everything else. It was 
a somewhat superficial reflection, but at the moment it 
was easy to think that there were divisions, just because 
the places to which people of any class might go were easy 
to single out. One of them was St James's Hall, and its 
chief entertainment in this year was of a kind that had 
taken a curious hold of the public caprice. It was a 
thought-reading performance ; and the exposures in previ- 
ous years of the fraudulent character of the grosser forms 
of " spiritualism " had caused those who made their living 
out of this kind of interest to turn to the less material 
devices. In 1881 there had been two prosecutions on 
charges of false pretences arising out of the older sort of 
performance ; one an affair of " slate-writing," and the 
other of crystal-gazing and table-turning. The thought- 
1 The Times, 3rd February 18831 


reading which succeeded those exposed tricks did not long 
go unattacked ; the performer at St James's Hall was 
challenged by Mr Labouchere to " read " the number on 
a banknote deposited by him in an envelope held by 
a certain Member of Parliament. The thought-reader 
demanded conditions on his own side, and for weeks the 
fairness or unfairness of the challenge, and the real nature 
of the performance, were under discussion in the news- 
papers, even scientists like Professor Ray Lankester 
coming forward with theories. The challenge never 
developed beyond a contest of wits as to the conditions. 
Another event in the amusement calendar of this year was 
the Fisheries Exhibition, the first of a series of specialised 
exhibitions which had great success, and became annual 
London entertainments. The Fisheries Exhibition was 
said at the time to have done much to popularise the 
eating of fish, but probably its success could be attributed 
to the exhibition of strange kinds of boats and boating 
gear. The centre of attraction was the display of equip- 
ment for Arctic exploration, which at this time shared with 
ballooning the first place in the popular admiration of 
adventure. It was even a craze which could be mildly 
scoffed at, for The Times, writing in April of the opening 
of the Arctic "season," said it had become as regular 
as the University Boat Race or the Twelfth of August. 1 
Exploring parties of various nationalities were annually 
engaged in taking observations round the Polar basin. 
Aeronauts, perhaps fired with a desire to be taking the 
popular eye with definite performances, were devising 
oversea flights. An attempt made in 1881 had been 
disastrous, Mr Walter Powell, M.P., having lost his life 
in the Channel while crossing to France. It was not until 
1883 that the first success was achieved. On 13th June 
of this year the news arrived that a Frenchman had made 
an ascent, and at first it was thought he too had perished ; 
4th April 1883; 


but a few days later he was landed by a fishing boat, having 
been picked up in the Channel ; he had come near enough 
to the English shore to hear the waves breaking. On 1st 
August a voyage was at last accomplished, Sir Claude 
de Crespigny and others crossing from Maldon in Essex 
to Flushing ; and in September the English Channel was 
crossed twice on 10th September by a Frenchman who 
landed near Folkestone, and a week later by an English 
party which started from Hastings and landed at Cher- 
bourg. To the year's record of adventure belongs also the 
news published in London on 26th July that Captain Webb 
had been drowned in attempting to swim the rapids below 
Niagara Falls. It was a foolhardy enterprise, but the 
world could anticipate anything from the man who had 
achieved the feat of swimming the English Channel, with 
its baffling tidal currents. On that former occasion 
Webb had been in the water for twenty-one hours and 
three-quarters, and the distance he swam was estimated 
variously at from thirty-nine to forty-five miles. 

Mention may be made here of the death of another man 
who stood in a different way for daring and romance. 
Captain Mayne Reid died in London on 23rd September. 
He was the last writer of those immense and fluent tales 
of adventure, of which he and Fenimore Cooper and 
G. P. R. James had the secret. Their works were already 
" books for boys," and taste for the long novel in masculine 
hands had gone back into the main channel of English 
fiction, from which the writers of adventure stories had for 
a time partially diverted it. John Inglesant had been pub- 
lished in 1881, and won its instant success ; the work of 
George Meredith had certainly accomplished no insignifi- 
cant advance when it was spoken of, not as obscure, but 
as " dazzling with excess of light " ; Mr Henry James's 
art was already classed as " exquisite." x 

A survey of the state of trade at the beginning of the 
1 The Times, ijth August 1883. 


year gave rise to the warning that a time of restricted 
profits was at hand 1 ; and there can be no doubt that the 
warning was based largely on the uneasiness of the labour 
market. The Trade Unions took a new step this year 
by joining in an International Congress of workmen's 
organisations. In one sense the Congress was not taken 
very seriously ; it was thought that there could be little 
real co-operation between labour movements in this 
country and those in other countries, since the latter aimed 
rather at producing direct State action upon industrial 
problems than at assisting sectional efforts of the 
workmen for better conditions. But even without inter- 
national agreement there was enough to make employers 
anxious, and Mr Henry Fawcett, urging them to take up 
profit-sharing as a means of steadying the industrial situa- 
tion, expressed the opinion that it was " vain to expect any 
marked improvement of general economic conditions as 
long as the production of wealth involves a keen conflict 
of opposing pecuniary interests." What effect any wide 
adoption of the profit-sharing principle might have had at 
this time, before Trade Unionism underwent the vigorous 
development of the later eighties, it is vain to conjecture. 
It was not attempted. In January the year saw its first 
strike, a serious one on the Caledonian Railway, in which 
long hours and an exacting system of fines were the chief 
complaints of the men. The passenger traffic was carried 
on with difficulty, and the goods traffic was practically 
suspended, a state of things which was bound to lead to 
an early settlement. The strike was over before the end of 
the month. The autumn brought other strikes. Late in 
August the weavers in Lancashire came out, and their 
dispute lasted over a month. The Darlington iron and 
steel workers were also out, and so were the Sunderland 
engineers ; and by the end of November there was daily 
expectation that the cotton spinners and the Yorkshire 
1 The Times, loth January 1883. 


miners would strike. Masters and men were at logger- 
heads as to the reality or otherwise of the trade revival, 
the latter demanding a share of increased profits, while the 
former denied that the revival had brought any real profits. 
The coinage problem was a baffling element in such dis- 
agreements. For the moment the bank rate, which had 
been 6 per cent, at the beginning of 1882, had gone down 
to 4 per cent., though no one believed it could long remain 
there. The lightness of gold coins, owing to wear and tear, 
was becoming too serious to be set aside, and in February 
there was talk of a steady calling-in of sovereigns. How- 
ever, this year saw the first distinct expectation of relief 
from a new supply of the metal. In May Mr Goschen 
suggested that the Treasury authorities could perhaps 
afford to wait, in view of " the rumours, apparently well- 
founded, of a great discovery of gold in the territories 
north-west of the Transvaal." This shows how curiously 
the real area of mineral wealth the Rand was still in 
the background ; and a communication a few weeks later 
from South Africa shows the same thing. It spoke at 
large of the " Transvaal goldfields," but the details were 
all of nugget-mining in the Lydenburg and Spitzkop 
districts, and on certain farms where old Portuguese 
workings, long overgrown, were being opened up. The 
scale of mining which was in the public eye can be judged 
from the statement that two claims worked quietly for 
twelve months past had actually yielded 6000 worth of 
gold ; and that claims owned by Cape Town adventurers 
had gone up in value from 24 to 50. Yet before the 
year closed, telegrams from South Africa were beginning to 
be couched in terms which can easily be seen, in the light 
of subsequent developments, to give the first hints of the 
truth. A Transvaal mining law was promulgated on 18th 
August ; and in November it was announced that certain 
" rotten quartz leads " were being opened, and crushing 
operations commenced. The " placer " miners had been 


throwing away quartz that would have crushed out at four 
ounces to the ton. Their day, and the day of four-figure 
annual returns, was almost over. Naturally, however, there 
was some reluctance to risk money in mines situated in the 
territory of the Boers. No friendliness on their part could 
be relied upon to protect mining rights, or to encourage the 
production of gold to the profit of British shareholders. 
It happened that delegates from the Transvaal were in 
England at the end of the year, laying before the Govern- 
ment a request for the abolition of the indeterminate 
" suzerainty " of Great Britain, and the establishment of 
the absolute freedom of the Transvaal. Their presence 
was put to service by the exploiters of one or two gold 
companies, floated in December. The delegates were 
appealed to on the subject of the Transvaal Government's 
attitude, and they replied in some indignation that that 
Government had no desire with regard to the goldfields 
except " to see the mineral resources of the country de- 
veloped to their fullest extent." But as yet only some 
rather shoddy enterprises made their appearance, with 
so much accompaniment of quarrelling as to the real 
vendors and the real owners of claims that the public 
remained cautious. 

In a year of restricted business spirit new ventures were 
not likely to advance far. Electric lighting was checked 
by the non-existence as yet of any system of supply from 
a central generating station ; the inventors were for the 
time being in their laboratories again, trying to work out 
such a system. The only event of the year worth record- 
ing under this head is the first use of the light in a church ; 
it was installed at St Matthew's, Brixton, in September. 
No advance was made in the use of electric power for 
propulsion, though a tramcar working on storage batteries 
was put into service on the Acton lines, and did regular 
duty among the horse cars. The extent of the field open 
to the inventor of a practicable method of propulsion was 


seen to be great ; trams had become so general that 
London now had seventy miles of line working, Manchester 
and its suburbs had forty-two miles, and the total length 
of tram lines in the kingdom was four hundred and forty- 
four miles. 

Almost at the end of the year came a piece of news which 
was the opening of a most unsatisfactory chapter in 
Egyptian affairs. On 22nd November information reached 
Cairo that Hicks Pasha, the British officer who was in 
command of the Egyptian forces in the Soudan, had been 
completely overwhelmed by the Mahdi, and his army de- 
stroyed, during a march undertaken by him from Khartoum 
to attack the Mahdi. He ought never to have been in the 
Soudan ; but the English Government were now displaying 
the foolish attitude of supposing that, when they had said 
they did not intend to be drawn into difficulties in Egypt, 
they had settled their part in the matter. They had 
thought this enough when, in the spring of 1883, General 
Hicks had been appointed to the Soudan army. The 
dangers in the Soudan were obvious to the English authori- 
ties in Egypt. It was a vast territory of provinces with 
widely separated headquarters under various governors ; 
it was garrisoned by an army undisciplined, unpaid, 
thoroughly unsoldierly ; its provinces were nearly all 
cut off from one another by the Mahdi's forces ; one pro- 
vince, Kordofan, had fallen completely into his hands in 
February 1883. Darfur, under Slatin Bey, was practically 
beyond defence. What could there be, it might well be 
asked, to entangle the British Government in a war in the 
Soudan, when the utmost that could reasonably concern 
them was the existence of sufficiently stable conditions in 
Lower Egypt to keep the Canal open and the bondholders' 
interest regularly paid, and when even to preserve that 
minimum they had become impatient of maintaining 
military responsibility ? After the annihilation of Hicks 
Pasha's force it was too late to ask that question. It was 


indeed possible even then to determine upon withdrawal 
of the Soudan garrisons, and the establishment of a firm 
frontier against the Mahdi between Upper and Lower 
Egypt. But it was not possible for the Government to 
leave the work to either the Egyptian or the Turkish 
authorities. The Mahdi had seized the popular imagina- 
tion. Ministers had put off determined consideration of 
their duty until the humanitarian pressure not to leave 
the field to slave-raiding a pressure which they might, 
with a little clear sight and plain speaking, have overcome 
was reinforced by public outcry against the supremacy 
of a barbarous ruffian. The Government moved now in 
a series of jerks, communicated by successive outcries, 
having missed once for all the opportunity to establish a 
purpose of their own. 

The record of this year may be coloured by mention 
of a curious phenomenon which filled many evenings 
with beauty. The sunsets of the summer and autumn 
were so magnificent that they became the general topic 
of conversation. The reason for them appeared to be 
an eruption of the volcano Krakatoa, in the South 
Pacific. This, according to the scientific view of the 
phenomenon, had loaded the whole atmosphere of the 
globe with impalpable dust, which caught brilliantly 
the level rays of the setting sun. 



ON 8th January 1884 it was announced in the 
London newspapers that General Gordon was 
leaving England for the Congo to take up an ap- 
pointment offered him by the King of the Belgians ; and 
there ensued gratified comments on the possibility that the 
slave trade through Upper Egypt might be checked at its 
source by a firm hand in the Congo territory. But there 
were other comments, far from gratified, on allowing 
Gordon of all people to pass into the service of a foreign 
state at such a time, when, if anything was to be done in 
Upper Egypt itself, he was, in the popular opinion, the 
man to do it. By 18th January the Congo appointment 
had been declined, and Gordon and Colonel Stewart left 
London for Egypt. 

In the ten days' interval there had been another public 
outcry, vigorously gathered to a head by The Pall Mall 
Gazette. It has an interest beyond the immediate circum- 
stances, because it was probably the first occasion on 
which a newspaper set itself, by acting as the organiser 
of opinion on a particular detail of policy, to change a 
Government's mind at high speed. However strongly 
newspapers had spoken before this on political subjects, 
they had not adopted the method of hammering, day 
in, day out, at a single detail, and turning policy into 
a catchword. That was almost what happened now. The 
cry of " Gordon for Khartoum " was raised to such a pitch 
that the Government decided they had after all been right 
in their first idea. For they had been thinking of him a 
month earlier. In December 1883 they had suggested to 



Sir Evelyn Baring in Cairo that Gordon might be sent to 
Khartoum. Baring had rejected the suggestion, and he 
rejected it again when it was repeated. He was for with- 
drawal from the Soudan, establishing the Egyptian frontier 
either at Berber or at Wady Haifa ; and was maintaining 
that attitude in the face of the resignation of Cherif Pasha, 
the Egyptian Prime Minister, and the refusal of Riaz Pasha 
to form a ministry ; and he did not wish anyone to be 
appointed to carry out the withdrawal who might be 
moved by conflicting ideas. He mistrusted Gordon in 
that respect. But unfortunately the Belgian appointment 
brought Gordon's name into prominence at the moment. 
He had been in the Soudan before, having only retired 
from command at Khartoum in January 1880, with a fine 
record of energetic action against the slave dealing along 
the White Nile x ; he was a hero both to the general public 
and to the Anti-Slavery Society ; and as the Government 
had not previously adopted the only indefeasible line, that 
of forbidding any English officer to go to the Soudan, it 
failed to stand up against the clamour for sending Gordon. 
The Cabinet had had its warning from its representative 
in Cairo. Baring had been perfectly explicit against 
sending any Englishman to the Soudan at this crisis, and 
especially against sending Gordon. No Englishman could 
be left unsupported at Khartoum, so that to send one was 
bound to mean a Soudan expedition ; and to send a popular 
hero would mean also an unmanageable heat of feeling in 
England. 2 

Mr Gladstone's reputation has suffered heavily for the 
blunder. His great age, which he seemed to bear so easily, 
inevitably appeared in his inability to deal with subjects 
that failed to interest him, in over-absorption in the 
subjects that did interest him. One member of the 

1 See an article on his work there in The Times, 22nd January 
1 Lord Cromer's Modem Egypt, i. 428? 


Government used to say afterwards that Mr Gladstone 
took virtually no notice of public affairs between the 
Irish Land Act of 1881 and the Home Rule Bill of 1886 ; 
in the House he often appeared quite torpid during debates 
on any subject remote from Ireland. At the same time his 
great reputation and popularity with his party made the 
state of his thoughts and feelings the final consideration 
in the Government. He disliked having any responsibility 
to Egypt ; the undertaking of it was to his mind the worst 
piece of " Beaconsfieldism." The result of this was that 
those who saw the gravity of the situation saw that Mr 
Gladstone was neither turning his back on the whole 
question, nor facing it clearly could not against the weight 
of his personality compel the Cabinet to consider the 
question. In the critical months of 1882 Lord Hartington 
had written : "I wonder whether any human being (out 
of Downing Street) would believe that not a word has been 
said in the Cabinet about Egypt for a fortnight, and I 
suppose will not be for another week, if then " ; or again : 
" I am afraid that there is no chance of a Cabinet or of 
getting Mr Gladstone to pay any attention to Egypt while 
the Arrears Bill is going on." 1 The same conditions existed 
in 1884. In the summer, directly after the preliminary 
credit for the Khartoum expedition had been voted, the 
Cabinet dispersed over the country, even though no one 
definitely knew the facts of Gordon's situation ; and a few 
days earlier Mr Gladstone, drawing nice distinctions be- 
tween Khartoum " surrounded " and Khartoum " hemmed 
in," had blandly proposed " to collect the sum of the evi- 
dence as to Gordon's position " 2 a position as to which 
some of Mr Gladstone's colleagues had for months been in 
correspondence with the Government's representative in 
Cairo. The passionate resentment against Mr Gladstone 
after the death of Gordon was not quite justly based. It 

1 Holland's Life of the Duke of Devonshire, i. 363, 365. 

2 Ibid. i. 477. 


was not the single and to some extent debatable 
question of the delay in the Khartoum expedition which 
provides the most serious charge ; it was the extent to 
which a Prime Minister allowed his distaste for the whole 
Egyptian complication to prejudice his mind against 
dealing with detail. 

The situation in the Soudan was in itself complicated 
enough to demand steady attention ; it demanded more, 
once Gordon had been despatched. Possibly the con- 
siderable amount of service which he had undertaken for 
foreign Powers, in circumstances which had emphasised 
his personal responsibility, combined with a strongly 
marked religious strain which in any case made his sense 
of that responsibility high, had rendered him by this 
time ill-fitted for the mere carrying out of orders. It is 
at any rate certain that before he was finally shut up in 
Khartoum he had virtually refused to act on orders, and 
was pursuing a policy of his own. The apprehension 
which Lord Cromer had felt in regard to the appointment 
was to be fully justified. Even on the way out to Egypt 
Gordon had procured the first modification in his in- 
structions. He had in his interview with the Cabinet in 
London undertaken no more than the duty of reporting 
upon the situation in the Soudan, with a view to evacuation. 
While on the voyage he thought that he could do the work 
better if he had definite official status, and he induced 
the British Government to secure from the Egyptian 
Government his nomination as Governor-General of the 
Soudan, believing the evacuation could be carried out 
with more dignity if it were accompanied by a restoration 
of the petty sultans of the Soudan provinces, instead of 
leaving the country openly to the Mahdi. This was not in 
one sense a great change of policy, especially as Gordon, 
on receiving his written instructions at Cairo, himself in- 
sisted on the insertion of a most emphatic clause binding 
him to evacuation ; but it was a great departure from the 


British Government's previous determination. An 
Englishman as Governor-General was far from a non- 
committal attitude. 

On his way up to Khartoum Gordon made a strange and 
serious mistake. At Berber he proclaimed the intention 
of evacuating the Soudan. It was characterised by Lord 
Wolseley as " a fatal announcement " ; he wrote to Lord 
Hartington (13th April 1884) : " This has prevented all 
men of any influence from helping. . . . Knowing that 
anarchy, or possibly anarchy pliis the Mahdi, must follow 
upon Gordon's departure, every one thought only of his 
own safety. . . . To help Gordon under such circumstances 
would have been suicidal on any man's part." 1 The 
proclamation was particularly ill-timed, since the Mahdi's 
influence was being extended by Osman Digna dangerously 
close to Berber. Valentine Baker Pasha, who had been sent 
to reinforce the Suakin garrison when the defeat of Hicks 
Pasha threatened the Suakin-Berber route, had moved out 
rather hastily with Egyptian troops against Osman, 2 and 
his force had been cut up on 5th February. Consequently 
when Gordon reached Khartoum, on 18th February, 
the surrounding of that place had become more than a 
possibility. Luckily the Egyptian Government was able 
to send up to Suakin at once 4000 British troops under 
General Graham, whose two defeats of Osman Digna at 
El Teb on 29th February and Tamai on 13th March kept 
that warrior for a while from assisting in the isolation of 

The news of these battles, with all the picturesque detail 
of fighting in squares with Gatling guns at the corners, and 
of the wild charges of the " Fuzzies," as the Mahdi's troops 
were being called, was followed by the first of the eagerly 
awaited news from Khartoum itself, messages reaching 
London on 21st March from Khartoum by way of Berber. 

1 Holland's Life of the Duke of Devonshire; 
3 Lord Cromer's Modern Egypt, i. 400. 


They were dated 14th and 15th March, and conveyed the 
information that Gordon had been engaged in small 
military operations round Khartoum, chiefly for the purpose 
of extricating the garrison of Halfiyeh ; it was also intim- 
ated that Khartoum was practically surrounded by the 
enemy. To the British public the affair was already a war ; 
they had in their own simple view pitted Gordon against the 
Mahdi ; and in the constant meetings held throughout the 
summer to protest against the " abandonment of Gordon " 
(for as early as the month of May the situation was so 
regarded) there was one continuous note of bewildered 
amazement at the Government's failure to conceive the 
position in this plain sense. Unfortunately to Gordon also 
it was by that time a war. He had passed through another 
of the changes of mind which so perplexed the Government 
at home, and their representative in Cairo. He had not 
yet entirely declined (as he was to do before long) the policy 
of evacuation which he had so emphatically accepted in the 
beginning ; he had only got as far as a new and more 
complicated version of " evacuation, but not abandon- 
ment." He was asking in March that an Egyptian 
Governor-General with a British Commission (his own 
being technically an Egyptian Commission) should be 
appointed ; and he asked for a particular man Zobeir 
Pasha. Now although to the general public in England 
this was an incident of no such vividness as battles in the 
desert, it is not too much to say that it made the Govern- 
ment gasp. Moreover it upset that humanitarian opinion 
which had worked so ardently for Gordon's appointment 
Zobeir had been the greatest and most unscrupulous of the 
slave traders of the Soudan and had been deported for that 
reason to Cairo ; and here was the idol of the Anti-Slavery 
Society demanding his appointment as Governor-General 1 
As a matter of fact this was exactly one of those strange 
quixotic pieces of fearlessness which had made Gordon a 
popular hero. In his former period of office in the Soudan 


he had had occasion to approve of the execution by one of 
his lieutenants of Zobeir's son. Yet believing now that 
Zobeir was a man who could hold Khartoum against the 
Mahdi, and even recover a large part of the Soudan, he 
declined to be influenced by any possible danger to himself 
in bringing Zobeir up to Khartoum. He was, no doubt, 
right in his belief. The experiment would, indeed, have 
been a risky one. Zobeir might join the Mahdi ; or, if he 
did not, he might become as troublesome to Lower Egypt 
as the Mahdi could. But of his warlike reputation in the 
Soudan, of his ability to rally the natives to him and hold 
Khartoum if he chose to, there could be no possible 
doubt. 1 However, Gordon's wish never got beyond the 
stage of suggestion. The general proposition that the 
Soudan should not be abandoned had support in England ; 
Khartoum left to be the capital of a slave-trading state was 
not a pretty picture. But the difficulty was that no one 
could think of any person capable of holding it except 
Zobeir ; and the only practicable policy was that of sending 
him. The Anti-Slavery Society hotly opposed it, and they 
found the Government especially ready to listen to them, 
since Gordon's proposal involved a direct British Com- 
mission to Zobeir and a subsidy of money. At the same 
time it was distinctly implied that the policy of evacuation 
was beginning to slip into the background in Gordon's 
mind. Two or three weeks after this Gordon finally 
abandoned the idea. Towards the end of March two of his 
pashas were defeated, by the treachery of their own troops, 
in engagements near Khartoum ; Berber was seized with 
panic, and all who could left the place. The fighting spirit 
in Gordon was roused, and those in England and in Cairo 
whose minds had been wholly set on withdrawing from the 
Soudan to a point of safe defence for Lower Egypt were 
staggered by receiving from him furious telegrams in which 
he announced his intention of " smashing the Mahdi " 
1 Lord Cromer's Modern Egypt, i. 450. 


before considering anything else. His change of mind was 
complete. It is fair to pause here for a moment to consider 
how differently the situation must have appeared to him 
and to the Government at home. It is probable that only 
he knew the extent to which the Soudan provinces were at 
that moment mere detached headquarters amid a sea of 
Mahdism, islands incapable of communication. It may be 
doubted whether even before Gordon arrived the garrisons 
of the southern provinces Darfur, under Slatin Bey, 
Bahr-el-Ghazal, under Lupton Bey, and Equatoria, under 
Emin Pasha could possibly have made their way north. 
Their predicament weighed heavily on Gordon's mind ; 
he could see no way of saving them and at the same time 
saving the garrisons of the eastern and northern provinces, 
Sennar, Kassala, Berbera, Khartoum and Dongola. The 
Soudan was cut in two halves by the Mahdi ; and this 
explains the historic telegram despatched by Gordon on 
7th April 1884, announcing his intention of retiring 
to the Equator, and leaving to the British Government 
" the indelible disgrace " of abandoning the northern and 
eastern garrisons. He intended evidently to gather up 
Lupton, Slatin and Emin on his way, and withdraw by 
the Congo, since he could see no possibility of conveying 
them northwards. It could hardly be of much profit now 
to speculate on what might have been done. Gordon, 
as we have seen, began by a proclamation which set the 
whole disaffected population of the Soudan on the alert 
for withdrawal movements, and went on to a misleading 
distinction between evacuation and abandonment. By the 
time that he sent the telegram of 7th April the situation 
had changed as completely as his own mind had changed. 
Khartoum was cut off from Dongola and Berber, and no 
relieving movement towards Berber from Suakin could 
be undertaken, because the weather was too hot for the 
marching of troops. The only thing that had not changed 
was the attitude of the British Government ; and the 


result was a hopeless interplay of cross purposes for two 
or three months. Gordon, feeling himself shut up in 
Khartoum, was confident that, as his isolation was known, a 
relief expedition would be on the way to him, and he issued, 
therefore, whenever opportunity offered, intimations of his 
ability to hold out. The Government, never having had 
any intention of sending British troops to the Soudan, and 
interpreting Gordon's messages in a wholly different spirit 
from that in which they were sent, held to instructing him 
to withdraw, and awaited his appearance. Mr Gladstone's 
view, as late as 31st July 1884, was that to send an expedi- 
tion either to Dongola or to Khartoum would be "to act 
in the teeth of evidence as to Gordon, which, however 
imperfect, is far from trivial." J That Lord Hartington 
was as much bewildered as anybody by Gordon's behaviour 
and his contradictory telegrams may be seen from his 
letters to Lord Granville. " I have read Gordon's tele- 
grams again," he wrote, " and I confess that I am utterly 
unable to understand them. ... I think that all we can do 
is to look at the position as it is known to us from other 
sources, and to pay no attention to what he says." Gran- 
ville was inclined to conclude, from the fact that messages 
were passing from Gordon to the Mudir of Dongola, that 
the Cabinet's messages were equally reaching Gordon and 
that he would not answer them. 2 In the end it was 
" looking at the position as it is known from other sources " 
which at last moved the Government to undertake an 
expedition. The preliminary credit was voted on 8th 
August ; and Lord Wolseley drew up a plan of campaign. 
This did not commend itself to General Stephenson, who 
was then in command at Cairo, and Lord Wolseley had to 
be sent out to take command. He left Cairo with his force 
on 5th October. By that time there had been no communi- 
cation with Gordon for six months, except that on two or 

1 Holland's Life of the Duke of Devonshire, i. 477. 

2 Ibid. i. 489, 4921 


three occasions in June and July messages had come from 
him asking as to the whereabouts of the relief expedition. 
It had been a long delay ; but, as we have said, the blame 
which the Government has to bear should be placed further 
back than these events, and on more general grounds. The 
confusion of ideas at the time must have been extreme, 
and the blame must rest on the mistakes of omission and 
commission alike which led up to the events of 1884. It 
is, for instance, worth recalling that Mr H. M. Stanley, 
who happened to reach London in July of this year from 
the Congo, expressed himself in an interview as perfectly 
confident about Gordon. He derided the whole idea of a 
Nile expedition in the summer (for which popular opinion 
in England was pressing), saying that the men would die 
like flies; and he asserted that Gordon could leave 
Khartoum when he liked, and withdraw by the Congo 
that he only needed " to act like a soldier," and rescue 
would be unnecessary. 1 

With the undertaking of the expedition popular atten- 
tion slackened. Little news was coming through from 
Egypt, and what came was not of importance. It is more 
interesting to us now than it was to people then to know 
that Major Kitchener was at Dongola, whence there was 
some hope of his making communication with Gordon. 
If in the pause that ensued English people looked at 
affairs nearer home, they must have decided that, if their 
attention had not been so taken up with Egypt, they would 
still have had a sufficiently exciting year. An earthquake 
had occurred, which was distinctly felt in London and the 
Midlands, but was quite serious in Essex, where so much 
damage was done in the villages that a fund had to be 
started for rebuilding houses. There was a succession of 
dynamite explosions, generally occurring two or three at a 
time in different places, which gave the appearance of a 
regular campaign. The long-expected County Franchise 
1 Interview published in The Times, 29th July 1884. 


Bill had been produced, and over it Lords and Commons 
were flatly at war. The dynamite explosions began with 
a railway station series : on 27th February there was one 
at Victoria Station ; fortunately it occurred in the small 
hours of the morning, and there was no loss of life. A 
day or two later infernal machines were discovered, before 
they went off, at Charing Cross and Paddington. On 
31st May there were explosions at Scotland Yard, the 
Junior Carlton Club in Pall Mall, and a frustrated attempt 
at the Military Education Office iji St James's Square ; at 
the same time a bag of dynamite was found near the Nelson 
Column in Trafalgar Square. In September the alarm 
spread outside London, a quantity of dynamite being 
found at Sunderland on the 13th, and an explosion 
taking place in the Council Chamber at Salisbury on the 
29th. Nervous as the public had become, there was by 
good fortune so little loss of life, or even injury, in these 
explosions that there was no panic ; nevertheless black bags 
without obvious owners were for a year or two regarded 
with extreme disfavour and suspicion. 

The County Franchise Bill, which would in any case have 
given the Government plenty of work, found itself early in 
the year dragging an unexpected weight. On 7th February 
a meeting of members of Parliament was held at the House 
of Commons to consider the moving of a Woman Suffrage 
amendment to the Bill. One was drawn up, and the mov- 
ing of it was undertaken by Mr Woodall ; it proposed to 
enfranchise women householders. The movement for en- 
franchising women was at this date influential, but limited. 
It had been in existence for some twenty years, and was 
almost exclusively a movement of educated women who, 
having found their own careers hampered by the absence 
of arrangements for admitting women to university 
courses and examinations, to professional diplomas and 
professional practice, naturally went on to contemplate 
the general position of women under the law and under 


social custom ; and came thence to the conclusion, ex- 
pressed for them most efficiently by J. S. Mill, that until 
women had the same political status as men they must 
continue to labour under disabilities in any society 
politically constituted. Theoretically the movement was 
not confined to the more highly educated classes of women ; 
but practically, although its leaders spoke and wrote to 
some extent of the wage-earners, the active suffragists 
were women who had had a university training, or had 
qualified as doctors, or were distinguished writers. The 
pledged supporters of the movement were not very numer- 
ous, the annual income of the principal suffrage society 
being about 350 1 ; but its members were mostly women 
of proved capacity, and the suffragist cause did not lose 
by the limitation. Mr Woodall's amendment gave the 
movement an occasion such as it had not yet enjoyed. 
Since it had attained force and publicity its only oppor- 
tunities, and they but rare ones, had been in the shape 
of private members' Bills, which no one took seriously. 
Now, however, an opening of a different kind presented 
itself, and frequent public meetings were held in support 
of Mr Woodall's amendment. Whether it was a genuine 
opportunity is questionable ; it could hardly in cold blood 
be considered possible that a measure dealing only with 
a certain class of constituencies, and proceeding on lines 
already tried, should be the vehicle for an experiment in a 
wholly new principle over the entire kingdom. Moreover 
the subject fell instantly into the vortex of party. A good 
many Conservatives were said, indeed, to be convinced 
supporters of the movement Lord Salisbury, Sir Stafford 
Northcote, Lord John Manners and Sir Michael Hicks 
Beach among them and it is interesting to find The 
Times speaking of a Woman Suffrage measure as " the 
trump Conservative card which Lord Beaconsfield kept 

1 See, e.g., report of the annual meeting of the society, The 
Times, loth July 1889: 


in his hand." x But the honesty of general Conservative 
support for the amendment was deeply suspect. Mr Glad- 
stone had announced that if the clause were carried he 
would throw up the Bill, and thus a great deal of the 
Opposition vote for it was purely opportunist. On 12th 
June the amendment came up for discussion, and was 
rejected by 271 votes to 135. 

This adventure was speedily lost sight of in the gathering 
of a far more considerable storm in regard to the Bill. 
By assimilating the county franchise to that created in 
the boroughs by the Acts of 1832 and 1867, the Bill 
swept away the old property limitations of the vote in 
country places, and gave it, as in boroughs, to the 
occupiers of rated dwelling-houses. It thus enfranchised 
the labourer ; and the change, both in the number and 
in the educational level of the electorate, was great. In 
July the House of Lords rejected the Bill, some warning of 
such an event being perhaps conveyed by the action of the 
Opposition in the Commons who, on the third reading, did 
not go into the Lobby at all, but walked out of the House. 
The ground which the Lords alleged for their rejection of 
the measure was that it was only half a scheme, and that a 
redistribution of seats should have accompanied so large 
an alteration of the electoral basis. Mr Gladstone, while 
agreeing that the two operations should come into action 
together, asserted roundly that to have grappled with them 
in one Bill would have been an insane attempt. He 
informed a party meeting, held at the Foreign Office 
immediately after the vote in the House of Lords, of an 
offer made to the Tories that, if the Bill passed, both Houses 
should adopt an identical resolution saying that they had 
passed the Franchise Bill in reliance on a promise that the 
accompanying Redistribution Bill should be introduced 
and passed the next year. The offer was characteristic 
of the moderation with which Mr Gladstone handled the 
1 1 3th June 1884. 


whole situation. There was not lacking a quantity of 
strong feeling against the House of Lords which might, 
if he had chosen, have been worked into passion. Indeed, 
the summer and autumn saw some very downright 
meetings in the country in Chatsworth Park, at Leicester 
and Manchester especially and some violent ones ; there 
was a regular riot at Bournemouth at the end of July, and 
another at Birmingham in October, when Sir Stafford 
Northcote and Lord Randolph Churchill were refused a 
hearing, and their platform was stormed after a free 
fight. A Democratic Committee for the Abolition of the 
House of Lords was established in London, Sir Wilfrid 
Lawson, Mr Labouchere, Professor Beesly and Mr Brad- 
laugh at its head and it absorbed no doubt an earlier 
body quaintly named " The Society for Removing Bishops 
from the House of Lords." But all this feeling did not in 
the least hustle Mr Gladstone out of his chosen path. He 
had set his mind on carrying his Bill, and he did not intend 
to have it swamped in a general campaign between the two 
Houses, or a general test of the constitutional privileges 
of the Peers. The Tories were not in a strong position ; 
whatever may have been their real dislike of the new 
franchise they had paid too much lip-service to it to 
confront easily the indignation the Peers had roused. 
" The Conservatives," Mr Goschen wrote about this time, 
" never pronounce against the Franchise ; they have 
never had a meeting against it ; never spoken except 
as regards the time of yielding." l Moreover Mr Glad- 
stone had a valuable ally in Queen Victoria, who, 
dreading as she always did the Radical element in the 
Cabinet, was only too ready to assist Mr Gladstone in 
any course alternative to a wholesale attack upon the 
House of Lords. She feared above all things the atti- 
tude expressed by a most interesting new recruit of the 
Ministerial benches in the House of Commons, Mr John 
1 Elliot's Life of Lord Goschen, i. 277. 


Morley, 1 who had said to a political audience : " Be sure 
that no power on earth can henceforth separate the ques- 
tion of mending the Commons from the other question of 
ending or mending the House of Lords." 2 The Queen's 
influence was active throughout the months of recess, and 
Mr Gladstone made handsome acknowledgment of its 
patient and prosperous application. 3 

A session which had opened with the expectation that it 
would be entirely concerned with Egypt and the Franchise 
ended by fulfilling that prophecy. Various Bills were dis- 
cussed; a Merchant Shipping Bill, extending the Em- 
ployers' Liability Act to shipping, and setting a limit upon 
insurance of ships and cargo ; a London Government Bill, 
setting up a single Municipality (a Common Council of 240 
members to take over the powers of the City Corporation, 
the Metropolitan Board of Works, the Commissioners of 
Sewers, the magistrates for Middlesex, Kent and Surrey 
within the limits, and the Burial Boards and Vestries, 
reserving only the poor law, education and the police for 
other control, and enjoining the acquisition by the new 
body of the undertakings of the gas and water companies) ; 
and finally a more curious Bill, designed to relieve the gold 
shortage by turning the half-sovereign, which suffered 
more than the sovereign from wear and tear, into a token 
coin, and making sovereigns the only legal tender on Bills 
of Exchange. But all three proposals were dropped. 
A considerable measure, however, was the attempted 
conversion this year of the National Debt. The scheme 
was to convert six hundred millions of 3 per cent, stock into 
2| per cent, stock, by issuing 108 of the new for every 
100 of the old. The high price of Consols for so many 
years justified the belief that the interest was more than 
the nation need pay, and a lower price would, it was argued, 

1 He had been elected for Newcastle in 1883. 

1 The Times, 3ist July 1884. 

* Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 138.- 


have the advantage of making the security more market- 
able. The conversion scheme was gazetted on 8th August, 
but did not attain any great success ; the public converted 
about nine and a half millions, and twelve millions which 
the Government held were also converted, but this was a 
very small proportion of the total. 1 

It was not altogether a happy year for such an attempt. 
The stock markets, disturbed by the uncertainty of our 
foreign relations, and by a heavy selling of Suez Canal 
shares, were too nervous for experiments. The bank rate 
had been reduced to 3 per cent., but only by a strictness 
on the part of the bank in fixing definite occasions for mak- 
ing advances to bill brokers. Trade was slack, except in 
the woollen industry ; an abundance of shipping had de- 
pressed freights and checked shipbuilding ; railway traffic 
returns were poor, and a coal strike was threatening in the 
Midlands. The competition of foreign manufactures was 
growing with the growing solidity of the German Empire 
and the growing immigrant population of the United 
States ; the militant Tory spirits in England were 
divided between abusing foreign imports and abusing the 
demands of Trade Unionism. 2 The new Bankruptcy Act 
was a source of some uneasiness ; for while working well 
on the whole, and putting an end to the vicious private 
compositions with creditors, it was also keeping in existence 
firms of a somewhat shaky solvency, which shrank from the 
publicity of the new arrangements. The cotton strike 
begun in 1883 overshadowed the beginning of 1884. It 
may even have had some damping effect upon the progress 
of the Manchester Ship Canal scheme, which came before 
Parliament in a private Bill this year, and was discussed by 
a Select Committee of the House of Lords in the spring. 
The scheme had to meet the opposition of Liverpool, which 

1 The Times, i8th October 1884. 

1 E.g. Lord Dunraven and Sir E. Beckett (Lord Grimthorpe) in 
The Times, 4th November 1884. 


was expressed in the form of anxiety as to the possible 
effect of the new waterway upon the existing channels of 
the Mersey. The Bill passed its second reading in the 
Commons ; but came to grief in the general abandonment 
of legislation during the Franchise controversy ; though 
the determination of Manchester in the matter was seen in 
the decision, taken later in the year, to promote another Bill 
in the following session. 

Manchester figured also in a remarkable controversy 
which arose in the early autumn. It was said that the 
corporation wished to undertake the management of a 
hotel in the city. The truth at the back of the story was 
that a hotel built on some land leased from the corporation 
had been suddenly thrown on the corporation's hands by 
the financial failure of the lessee, before its completion ; 
and, rather than leave the place idle, a licencee had been 
put in as the corporation's tenant. Birmingham had, 
however, attempted before this to obtain the leave of 
Parliament to carry on the business of a licensed victualler, 
so that it was natural to suppose that Manchester was on 
the same track. The controversy on the subject, which 
was raised by a licensed victuallers' organisation, is chiefly 
interesting because it revealed no intellectual objection to 
municipal trading, as such ; the only argument was that 
to include hotel -keeping was going rather far. Meanwhile 
the enormous impulse given to municipal affairs by the new 
power to issue stock may be judged from a report published 
early in 1884 of the towns which had already obtained the 
power 1 ; they numbered no less than twenty-seven, and 
the amount of authorised municipal stock had gone up 
from five and a quarter millions to about seventy-five 
millions. The local government debt of the country at 
this time was already over a hundred millions. 

In the region of social reform the year is notable for the 
appointment of the Royal Commission on the Housing 
1 The Times, i8th January 1884.- 


of the Poor, which was gazetted on 4th March. The 
presence on the Commission of the Prince of Wales as 
chairman expressed strikingly the degree to which the 
general national conscience was aroused on the subject. 
The housing conditions in London were most prominently 
discussed (in January the Local Government Board had 
sent round a circular to the local authorities of London, 
pointing out their powers and duties under various Acts, 
as to the inspection of houses, the abatement of nuisances, 
and the demolition of unsuitable dwellings) ; but the 
public was well aware that sanitary conditions in country 
places were exceedingly bad. Some committees of private 
people in the richer parts of London had been investigating 
conditions in such districts as Southwark ; so that in every 
way the commission came at a time likely to render it 
fruitful. It coincided with an event which, if as much 
designed for pleasure as for business, was likely in a small 
way to be of some assistance, the Health Exhibition, the 
successor to the Fisheries Exhibition of the previous year. 
Conferences on sanitary matters were held in connection 
with the exhibition ; and both to them and to the housing 
question a renewed alarm of cholera gave great importance. 
The first anxiety arose from a case discovered at Port Said 
on board a homeward-bound troopship in April ; at the 
end of June the disease appeared at Toulon, and spread to 
Marseilles, to Spain and to Italy ; it continued to ravage 
the south of Europe almost until the winter set in. The 
precautions taken in England still followed the principle 
of improved sanitation, cleanliness, etc. ; and out of this 
attitude grew the sharp attacks made in this year on the 
Duke of Bedford on account of the shameful condition of 
Covent Garden Market, where vegetables lay about rotting, 
and no standard of cleanliness had ever been enforced. 
" Mud-Salad Market " was the name Punch gave to it at 
this time. A somewhat odder, and yet no less lasting, 
result of the Health Exhibition was the sudden impulsion 


it gave to the consideration of healthy clothing. From 
this year dates the rise of Dr Jaeger's teachings in England ; 
and The Times somewhat rashly committed itself to the 
assertion that Englishmen would not be ashamed of wearing 
a comfortable coat because it was ugly. 1 But healthiness 
does not necessitate the colours in clothing which the 
enthusiasts adopted ; and they remained, therefore, when 
the first ardour of the movement waned, a somewhat 
conspicuous snuff -brown band. The ordinary man had 
not as a whole displayed much interest in the sanitary 
conferences of the Health Exhibition ; but it was some 
consolation to record that by its means he had learned 
again to walk in gardens of an evening and listen to a band. 
Indeed the ordinary man's pursuit of health was opening 
up everywhere fresh avenues. Cycling was giving access 
to country places, and the National Cyclists' Union and 
the Cyclists' Touring Club were in their second year of 
existence. Swimming was much in vogue, and the Beck- 
withs' entertainment had for a season or two been one 
of the most popular in London ; it was announced in the 
summer of 1884 that Miss Beckwith was going to attempt 
to swim the Channel. The family visit to the seaside in 
the summer had ceased by now to be a subject for superior 
jokes ; and Punch's butt had become the Cockney tourist 
at " Bullong." However, Boulogne had no objection to 
receiving him, and was in this year dredging its harbour to 
allow of a fixed-hour steamship service across the Channel, 
Lord Radnor at the same time being approached for 
foreshore rights for a corresponding deep-sea harbour 
at Folkestone. 

At a great demonstration in July against the House of 
Lords, after the rejection of the Franchise Bill, there was 
a small group which, while joining in the demonstration, 
preferred to have its own platform. It was a group of 
socialists, and it attracted little attention until a speaker 
^th October 1884. 


referred contemptuously to John Bright (who had been 
roused to battle again by the action of the Peers) ; where- 
upon the group was broken up by wrathful bystanders. 
Yet though socialism was as yet contemptible to the 
London populace it was already giving rise to some anxiety. 
Henry George was lecturing in London in January of 1884 
on Land Nationalisation ; and the frequent references to 
him, spiteful or humorous, in newspapers and comic prints 
throughout the year give some measure of the great impres- 
sion he had made. His theories coloured the whole of the 
Radical programme. The first number of a new socialist 
paper, Justice, was published on 9th January 1884. 

Meanwhile middle-class attempts to do what was just 
by the poor and the oppressed were increasing. There 
was some inclination to perceive the rise of a " new 
Radicalism," humanitarian and courageous, but distinctly 
inclined to interference ; trade unions were warned that 
it was not wise to invoke too much State interference. 
But this was a misreading of the signs. The fault of the 
trade unions was rather, as Mr Chamberlain saw, a more 
marked tendency to exclude politics from their sphere of 
work. In a letter to a correspondent published early in the 
year Mr Chamberlain deplored this tendency, as " a practi- 
cal abnegation of the most vital interests of the working 
classes." There is in this an interesting indication that 
the disjunction of official Liberalism from the main current 
of social change was causing some anxiety to Radical 
leaders. But the latter had no opportunity of keeping 
their minds with any continuity upon a restoration 
of understanding. They missed such chances as were 
offered them, for instance, by the prolonged discussion of 
the condition of the Friendly Societies, some of which were 
not financially above suspicion ; they did not see in the 
earnest work of the societies' most prominent critic, Canon 
Blackley, the nucleus of a scheme of national insurance for 
workmen. They missed even such chances of action in the 


socialist direction as were offered by the middle-class 
themselves ; the railway companies, exhausted by com- 
petition, were tentatively expressing, through some of their 
chairmen, the opinion that increased control by the Board 
of Trade would not be unwelcome, if it would limit the 
competition. The Government had, in fact, come to office 
with an imperfect appreciation of the spirit of advanced 
sections of the community, and it never had leisure to 
obtain a clearer view. Meanwhile the sense of the increased 
power of the working classes in the community, their 
improved economic and, consequently, civic weight, so to 
speak, is shown by a certain tendency to call in question 
the whole basis of taxation. It was urged that the corol- 
lary of all the efforts being made for a social amelioration 
should be a greater union in responsibility ; and the 
debates on the County Franchise Bill were accompanied 
by the criticism that we were multiplying the voters 
without increasing the number of taxpayers. Hence arose 
the plea that there should be less reliance on indirect 
taxation ; the days had passed when we " drank ourselves 
out of the Alabama indemnity " ; and that there should be 
no exceptions from direct taxation. Another idea was that 
the Income Tax should be abolished, and money raised by 
stamps on every sale of goods. However, social ideas of 
any kind failed to penetrate into the rather narrow circle 
of the politicians' outlook, and remained in the region of 
private effort, where the benevolent spirit was more active 
than the critical. New ideas, for instance, in connection 
with elementary education showed to what astonishing 
lengths the departure from the old individualism was 
proceeding. Thoughtful people had begun to perceive 
in the elementary schools not mere machines for giving 
knowledge, after the operation of which children must sink 
or survive, as they could, but also fresh opportuni- 
ties for dealing with poverty and the inadequacies of 
poor homes. Thus we find a New Education Code showing 


signs of an inclination to lay less stress on examination 
results, and more on a classification of children with 
proper regard to their health, and at the same time a 
movement of private philanthropy for providing the 
children of the very poor with decent clothing and with 
cheap meals at school. Compulsory education was having 
its indirect effect in bringing to the light of day children 
whose lack of clothing and nourishment would otherwise 
have been concealed in the swarming courts of town slums. 
It is curious to find that an early difficulty in the way of 
feeding children was the distrust they showed of such food 
as macaroni, lentils, haricot beans, and even of soup * ; so 
strong remained the British feeling that only meat made 
a meal, even among those who could hardly ever have 
meat. The fact that other forms of food were being used 
in this work may be an indication that the more well-to-do 
people were becoming aware of that narrowness of range 
in catering which was remarked a year or two earlier. 
The limitation of the meat supply by the embargo on im- 
ported cattle was still very great ; but the chilled meat trade 
was steadily advancing. The largest cargo yet landed in 
England arrived on 26th September in a shipment of 22,000 
carcasses, and 1000 pieces of beef, from New Zealand ; 
cold storage warehouses had been constructed under 
Cannon Street Railway Station in order to handle large 
consignments. It was fortunate that the leaders of this 
enterprise were persistent, for the impossibility under the 
existing regulations of moving live cattle was leading to 
some atrocious experiments in conserving dead meat ; thus 
a system had been devised of injecting boracic acid into an 
animal before killing it, the circulation of the blood con- 
veying the preservative over the body ; and other experi- 
ments were made with carbonic acid. 2 The new inventions 
which had so enlivened the past three or four years were 

1 The Times, itfh December 1884. 

2 Ditto, 3 ist January and 26th July 1884. 


in 1884 a little at a standstill. Electric lighting had not 
yet reached the stage of central supply stations, and to 
install it still meant buying a complete producing plant. 
The slowness of development was put down in some 
measure to the provisions of the Electric Lighting Act ; 
itwas beginning to be felt that empowering local authorities 
to purchase lighting undertakings at the end of twenty -one 
years was rather too drastic, since the companies could not 
expect to cut out the gas companies with such speed as to 
recoup themselves within that period. In electric traction 
the year witnessed a distinct change of method. The 
" live rail " was replaced by the first practical " feed " 
system for street use, the employment of a sunk conduit 
carrying the current rail. It was tried at Blackpool, and 
with no small success. But it was expensive, and so many 
other experiments were being made in America that most 
of the tramway companies preferred to hold their hands for 
the present. 

The opening of the new University College for Wales in 
September carried on the advance of provincial university 
education. About the same time the question of over- 
pressure in girls' schools, which had become a somewhat 
heated item in a general discussion of the emancipation of 
women and their entry into occupations hitherto ex- 
clusively masculine, came up again in the form of a report 
by Dr Crichton Browne. The report was considered 
somewhat rhetorical, and weak in evidence, and likely 
therefore to put an end to genuine discussion. 

Autumn brought an unprecedented return of life to 
London. Instead of an adjourned session, such as had 
previously been the means of finishing a heavy year's work, 
the Government opened a new session in November. The 
reason, of course, was that the Franchise Bill, having been 
rejected by the Lords, could only reappear in a new session, 
and as a Redistribution Bill was ahead it was necessary 
to take at once the chances of a new attempt with the 


Franchise Bill chances which the Queen's influence had, 
as we have said, rendered much brighter. The great world 
made the best of the business, decided to have an autumn 
season, and to amuse itself in London until Christmas 
a thing it had never done before. In any case, the rela- 
tions between the two Houses were exciting enough to 
make hostesses sure of vivacious dinner-tables and gossipy 
evening parties. The Tadpoles and Tapers came back to 
town discussing the propriety or otherwise of a creation of 
peers to pass the Bill, a course Mr Gladstone preferred to 
avoid l ; and meanwhile two men from the opposing sides 
who could hardly have been better chosen Lord Harting- 
ton and Sir Michael Hicks Beach were parleying on 
possible means of adjustment. Outwardly there was to the 
last minute uncertainty as to the attitude of the House of 
Lords, Lord Salisbury still demanding the actual production 
of the Redistribution Bill before he would undertake to 
pass the Franchise Bill. But on 18th November the crisis 
was passed. The Franchise Bill was read a second time in 
the Lords, the committee stage being postponed for the 
Tory leaders to see in private the Redistribution Bill. 
All went well ; on 27th November the Franchise Bill 
passed its committee stage ; the Redistribution Bill was 
introduced in the Commons on 2nd December, and on the 
6th Parliament adjourned until the following February. 
The Redistribution Bill, discussed as it had been in private 
between leaders of the two parties, promised an easy pas- 
sage ; but it, like the other Bill, raised at the outset a kind 
of corollary discussion. The advocates of Proportional 
Representation saw their opportunity, just as the advocates 
of Woman Suffrage had seen theirs, and held meetings in 
December to commend their views to the electorate. But 
they did not succeed in persuading Mr Gladstone ; and Mr 
Courtney, the chief advocate of the new idea, resigned his 
post in the Government. 

1 Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 130. 


The Redistribution Bill, in order to bring about the 
proper digestion of a large accession of voters, had to 
readjust drastically the electoral areas. Boroughs of less 
than 15,000 inhabitants were disfranchised, and thrown 
into county constituencies, to balance the new rural 
vote. Towns with a population of less than 50,000 were 
to have only one member ; and in general, save for the 
very large towns, the constituencies were all to be 
single-member areas. By these means 160 seats were 
set free, to be allotted to the new constituencies pro- 
duced by the re-division of the county areas. 

Mr Gladstone had steered his Bills through after his own 
fashion. Only the boldest members of the party ventured 
to remark that he had done exactly what he said he would 
not do ; he had let the Lords see the Redistribution Bill as a 
condition of passing the Franchise Bill. So unquestioned 
was his supremacy that his party accepted what he had 
done ; indeed, they hardly realised it. But the true 
Radicals in after years put down to Mr Gladstone's action 
on this occasion the confidence with which the House of 
Lords rejected Liberal Bills. No other business had 
occupied Parliament, though there was at this time some 
discussion of our naval strength, and a demand for 
extensive building of torpedo boats. This class of boat, 
with its swiftness and deadliness of attack, was at the 
moment the idol of a navy which only four years before 
had seen the disappearance from the active list of the last 
of the wooden armour-clads. 

Yet even the political excitement about the Franchise 
Bill could not conceal the more general anxiety about 
Gordon. In September news of gloomy omen had come. 
Colonel Stewart, Gordon's companion in Khartoum, on 
whose cool judgment the British authorities in Cairo had 
relied much in their bewilderment about Gordon himself, 
left Khartoum on 10th September, with some other 
Englishmen, in an attempt to reach Lower Egypt by way 


of the Nile. Their steamer was wrecked sixty miles below 
Abu Hamed, and Stewart and his companions, having been 
lured into a village, were murdered there. After this an- 
other long silence ensued. Wolseley was making his way 
up the Nile, but was not ready until December for the move 
across the desert from Korti. There he divided his force 
into two columns, one under Sir Herbert Stewart starting 
to take the desert route, and the other under General Earle 
to take the Nile route. On the day that Herbert Stewart 
set out a message arrived from Gordon, on a scrap of paper 
about the size of a postage stamp : " Khartoum all right. 
14. 12. 84. C. G. GORDON." A verbal message accompanied 
it to the effect that Khartoum was in great straits. But at 
least Gordon was still alive, relief was approaching him, 
and the year ended in good hope. 



IT was a remarkable stroke of Fate which placed the 
Government at the beginning of 1885 in the position 
of not having to " meet Parliament." As the session, 
had been opened in November, and only adjourned over 
Christmas, the reassembling in 1885 was not accompanied 
with the formalities of a Speech from the Throne, an Ad- 
dress in either House, and a general engagement of forces. 
On the contrary, there was at the critical moment all the 
natural instinct of the politician to carry through a large 
piece of half -finished work ; and, as the holding-over of the 
important stages of the Redistribution Bill provided that 
condition, the Government did not actually have to go to the 
country until the popular mind had undergone no slight 
change from a temper on the subject of Gordon, which 
would beyond a doubt have wrecked the Liberal party at 
the beginning of the year. 

The first news of the year from the Soudan was cheering. 
On 16th January it was announced in London that Herbert 
Stewart had reached Metemmeh, and on the 22nd the 
papers had the news of the battle of Abu Klea. The story 
of the fight was one to soothe ruffled popular pride ; 
the British square had been broken in the battle, but by 
sheer fighting courage, sheer pluck, the troops had re- 
stored their formation, and it was reported that when the 
enemy had drawn off 1100 of their dead had been 
counted on the field. Nevertheless the battle cost the life 
of one who was a hero of adventure, Colonel Burnaby. 
The next piece of news was a blow. Herbert Stewart 



himself had been shot on 18th January, while his force was 
advancing through bush the day after the battle, and his 
wound was grave. But the force pushed on, and on 
21st January reached the Nile at Gubat. Here it met 
four steamers, the river fleet which Gordon had had at 
Khartoum, and with them was one more tiny scrap of 
paper. It bore the words : " Khartoum is all right. 
Could hold out for years. C. G. GORDON. 29. 12. 84." 
The decision to use the steamers for a hasty advance to 
Khartoum was instantly taken, but Sir Charles Wilson, 
who had succeeded Herbert Stewart in command, 
ordered certain reconnaissances to be made before they 
moved. They actually started up the Nile again on 
24th January. 

On 6th February England had the news that Khartoum 
had fallen, and the relief force had been too late. In 
official quarters it had been known twenty-four hours 
earlier. Sir Charles Wilson's little advance force, steaming 
up the Nile, had come in sight of Khartoum, and simul- 
taneously under heavy firing from the river-sides, on 28th 
January. Their eyes searched for the flag that should 
have been flying. A man had shouted from the bank on 
the previous day that Khartoum had fallen, and Gordon 
was killed. The flag was not there. After satisfying 
himself by other observations that Khartoum was wholly 
in the Mahdi's hands Sir Charles Wilson turned his steamers 
and went downstream. For a few days England refused to 
believe the worst ; rumours about Gordon were rife among 
the natives around Wolseley's camp at Korti, and for ten 
days England remained in suspense. Then on 16th 
February was published a telegram from Wolseley, saying 
that Gordon had been killed. Just before sunrise on 
26th January, with the steamers so close at hand, he 
had faced at the entrance to his residence the spears of 
the Mahdi's horde, and died as fearlessly as he had 


The angry excitement in England was intense. From 
the Queen herself, who sent her Ministers a sharp telegram 
of rebuke without observing the ordinary custom of putting 
the message in cypher, 1 down to the humblest of her 
subjects, the outcry against Mr Gladstone and his Govern- 
ment arose. Gordon had indeed become almost a figure 
of legend in the popular mind ; men told how he had gone 
through the whole of the campaign of the Ever- Victorious 
Army in China with no weapon but a cane, how little 
he had cared for danger in his earlier days in the Soudan. 
His religious fervour, his disregard for himself, his mission- 
ary enthusiasm, all contributed to produce a kind of ideal- 
isation of him against which no amount of knowledge of the 
inner history of his last mission could have prevailed. Be 
this at least said to the honour of those most bitterly 
attacked on account of his death that no word was 
uttered by them to destroy the character which the pre- 
valent hero-worship built up. It is true that no contrary 
word would have been likely to carry weight ; but the 
many that might have been said in heat or exasperation 
by those who were now held responsible were left unsaid. 

In the nation's hour of bitterness the news published on 
21st February that Herbert Stewart had died of his wound 
was a real additional grief. Gallant, frank and sweet - 
natured, he was in the opinion of many the finest soldier 
of them all. Parliament had just met again ; and in spite 
of its not meeting with the usual discussion of the Govern- 
ment's work in a debate on an Address, it could not of 
course proceed far without an opportunity for arraigning 
Ministers. On 27th February aVote of Censure was moved, 
and was only defeated by 302 votes to 288. The Govern- 
ment had to face a double disaffection among its followers, 
the greater one contained in the reason for the motion of 
censure, and a lesser one arising from the hostility of one 
group of Liberals to the announced policy of not allowing 
1 Motley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 167. 


the Mahdi to hold Khartoum. The latter led to a number 
of abstentions from the division. But, as we have said, the 
existence of a great piece of work, half-accomplished, tided 
the Cabinet over the internal dissensions which followed 
such a vote. It was agreed in the Cabinet that the Redis- 
tribution Bill should be carried through. There was also 
reason to believe that the Conservatives were not at the 
moment very anxious to come into office, and shoulder the 
thankless task of taking secondary decisions about the 
Soudan. 1 Indeed the Conservatives were in no sense in 
a strong position ; the reproaches for the death of Gordon 
had not been aimed entirely in one direction, and Con- 
servatives were reminded that they had at no period in the 
past year displayed the possession of any policy of their 
own which might have helped to guide events ; their work 
of criticism and of extracting from the Ministry at any 
given moment its intentions had been so ill-done that 
there was even room for asking, with what would in 
easier circumstances have been comical bewilderment, 
whether we were actually at war, and if so, with whom. 2 
For one half of England these were the events that 
shadowed and embittered the opening of 1885. There was 
another half which had not at this time heart or strength 
to look beyond its own urgent need. The winter was full 
of distress and unemployment. Early in January three or 
four thousand men in Birmingham presented themselves, 
orderly, quiet, but near starvation, before the mayor, 
asking for work. From every great town came a similar 
cry, and in London the distress was as much greater as the 
poor streets spread further. Deputations had gone to the 
Lord Mayor in earlier years, and a few thoughtful people 
had paid attention to them. Now with the more bitter 
need came a new and more menacing frame of mind 
among the men. On 16th February a deputation of 
unemployed went to the Local Government Board, where 
1 The Times, 2nd March 1885. * Ditto, I4th February 1885. 


they were received by Mr George Russell, the Parliamentary 
Secretary. He could make them no more than an official 
reply ; the problem they represented could hardly be said 
officially to have any existence. That fact was, to the men 
concerned, the heart of their reproach ; and this was what 
they meant when they asserted at the end of their fruitless 
visit that the Board and the Government would be respon- 
sible for the deaths that destitution would bring in the next 
few weeks. " Responsible for murder " was the exagger- 
ated phrase they used ; but they saw strong and willing 
men being pushed out of life, and if it were not a deliberate 
process, such as might fairly be called murder, then the 
sooner someone began to deliberate about it the better. 
As the men left the Local Government Board they dis- 
tributed a manifesto fiercely worded against a Government 
which had acknowledged its helplessness ; the manifesto 
bore the names of John Burns, J. E. Williams, William 
Henry, and James Macdonald. Round the corner in 
Downing Street they held a defiant meeting before the 
police had gathered force to stop them, and a man spoke 
hanging to the cross-bar of a lamp-post. We may picture 
him there the first portent of a series of troubled 

The problem of the unemployed had, we have remarked, 
no official existence. Yet at this very moment it came 
nearer to having one than it was to come again for some 
years. At the end of January a conference, extraordinary 
to look back upon, took place in London. It was called the 
Industrial Remuneration Conference, and it had been 
rendered possible by an anonymous gift of 1000 for the 
purpose. The fact is significant of how much the social 
unrest had begun to impress thoughtful people, however 
little appearance it made on the surface of things. The 
proceedings of the conference are a most interesting index 
of the state of sociological opinion at the time of the 
dissolution of the old individualism. The intellectuals of 


the official and political world met face to face the teachers 
of socialism, and those leaders of the trade unions who were 
introducing profound changes into the theory of trade 
combination. Sir Charles Dilke presided over the meeting. 
Lord Bramwell read a paper against socialism ; Mr 
Bernard Shaw joyously defended a thesis that the landlord, 
the capitalist and the burglar were equally damaging to the 
community. Mr Arthur Balfour criticised Henry George's 
Progress and Poverty ; Mr Shaw Lefevre spoke of the 
English land system as " relics of feudalism " which should 
be swept away ; Mr Williams, of the Social Democratic 
Federation, retorted that when Mr Chamberlain spoke of 
nationalising the land, but avoided saying anything about 
manufactures, he was but an " Artful Dodger." Mr John 
Morley, with a watchful eye upon the proceedings of the 
Fair Trade League, warned the Conference of the fallacies 
of the Imperial Zollverein school, and of the hopelessness 
of expecting any colony to give up its tariff. In the less 
controversial hours of the conference the Rev. H. Solly 
preached the doctrine, more familiar to our day than to 
his, of avoiding congestion of labour by the institution 
of industrial villages ; and Mr John Burns, with no little 
common-sense, pointed out how much the principle of 
socialism was already embodied in the normal activity of 
great and advanced municipalities. 

There was leaven enough here, and some of it seemed to 
be already at work in the community. Mr Shaw Lefevre's 
references to the land had this additional point that he 
had been Chairman of a Departmental Committee which 
had reported in the middle of January in favour of an 
allotment system for labourers ; and Mr Jesse Collings was 
at the height of his advocacy of small holdings, while Mr 
Chamberlain was making speeches which were thought to 
point not obscurely to a special taxation of landed property 
such as might advance a break-up of big estates. 1 Again 
1 The Times, 5th February 1885. 


the hostility visible on one side of the conference to the 
middleman and the capitalist had its practical counterpart 
in the advancing work of the co-operative movement. 
It was already including both production and distribution, 
though it was more engaged in the latter. Mr Burns 's 
reference to municipalities was also full of significance. 
The opinion of the social reformers of the period that " the 
era of administration had come " issued in January 1885 
in the formation of the Fabian Society, whose principle was 
the advancement of socialistic ideals at every opportunity 
afforded by the existing machinery of the State, in contra- 
distinction to those socialists who wished to begin by 
recreating the machinery. Mr Bernard Shaw had appeared 
at the Industrial Remuneration Conference as a represen- 
tative of this new society. The Fabians based their hopes 
mainly on Local Government. The great municipalities 
had at the moment not much further to expand ; the chief 
project of the year, that of Manchester's water-supply from 
Thirlmere, had been really settled when parliamentary 
powers for the work had been obtained in 1879, though 
six years had intervened before the Water Committee of 
the Council resolved to commence the undertaking. But 
the lesser municipalities might still be aroused ; and in 
any case there remained the prospect of reorganisation 
of county government, which was still an unfulfilled 

Once again, just when a domestic problem had gathered 
force and impetus which might have moved Parliament, an 
urgent distraction intervened, and again it was a bequest 
of "Beaconsfieldism." It came this time from Afghanistan. 
Russia, advancing her possessions in Central Asia, had 
annexed Turcoman territory; and the necessary conse- 
quence had been a commission to delimit the frontier 
between that territory and Afghanistan. The British 
relations with the Ameer were such that the commission 
consisted of British and Russian diplomats. While they 


were at work Russian troops came into conflict with Afghan 
troops at Penjdeh, routed them after a heavy fight, and 
occupied the place. On this question Mr Gladstone showed 
none of the lack of interest which had been so fatal in 
Egypt. Partly, no doubt, this was due to the detached 
sharpness of the incident ; there was no ambiguity as to 
England's position. But at the same time, however serious 
the matter was at the moment, however anxious the diplo- 
matic problem, the fact remains that the Penjdeh incident 
could be looked back upon afterwards as " a perfect god- 
send " from a Liberal politician's point of view. 1 England 
was so much roused that a vote of credit was passed with 
no difficulty, the reserves were called out, and every eye 
was turned upon the possibility of war with Russia. 
Mr Gladstone, seizing the opportunity to deplore a dis- 
traction of our forces, was able to abandon quietly the 
whole of the Khartoum problem, and in addition to meet 
the remaining costs of the Soudan expedition, amounting 
to four and a half millions, out of a vote of credit already 
obtained, instead of having to move a separate vote and 
thereby definitely raise the question of abandoning 
Khartoum. Thus Mr Gladstone achieved the feat of 
satisfying at one and the same time the Radicals, by 
removing the possibility of more bloodshed in Egypt, and 
the Whigs, by opposing Russian aggression. The result 
rewarded his admirable party skill. The Russian menace 
subsided, and by the beginning of May an agreement had 
been reached which removed all danger. Wolseley was 
ordered home from Dongola, the decision was taken to 
establish the Egyptian frontier at Wady Haifa, and the hot 
fit in England passed as opportunely as in one sense it had 
arisen. Baring's despatches from Egypt were to the effect 
that, while he could not pretend to agree in all the decisions 
that had been taken, he was sure that the general lines of 
the Government's policy were perfectly practicable, and 

1 Holland's Life of the Duke of Devonshire, ii. 3 1 . 


would, if persevered in, lead to success. On 30th June 
the Mahdi died, and his place in the Soudan was taken by 
the Khalifa. 

A minor interest brought out by the return of the 
troops was the fact that, for the first time, colonial troops 
joined the British regular forces in an affair in which their 
colony was not directly concerned, and took, as it were, 
Imperial status. An Australian contingent had been 
landed at Suakin, and had taken part in operations under 
Sir Gerald Graham. With this development of colonial 
spirit may be linked a speech made by Mr Goschen at 
Manchester in February, which marks the beginning of the 
most striking change of our time in the hierarchy of 
Government departments. He pointed out that colon- 
ising, both by the British and by other nations, had now 
spread so widely that in every part of the world Britain 
had civilised neighbours ; therefore statesmanship, which 
had never found a home at the Colonial Office, would have 
to be brought to bear upon our colonial relations and upon 
the foreign relations springing out of them. For the 
moment this pronouncement lost its value amid the 
difficulties of the year, but it deserves to be recorded in 
its place. 

The Government appeared now to have ridden out 
another storm. But the Cabinet was working un- 
comfortably ; Mr Chamberlain was making speeches 
which his less Radical colleagues disliked ; coercion was 
holding Ireland down ; and the question of relieving its 
severity and at the same time introducing some measure 
of local self-government was a constant source of friction 
amongst Ministers. On 8th June the Government fell, 
being defeated on an amendment to the second reading 
of the Budget, dealing with the proposed increase of the 
beer duty. It was common knowledge that the Govern- 
ment Whips had deliberately permitted the defeat. 
Mr Gladstone resigned. His action has a place in 


constitutional history, since it had not hitherto been 
customary for defeat on a minor point to involve resigna- 
tion, while a government had a majority for its general 
policy. 1 But on the other hand the smallness of the 
majority on the Vote of Censure would have been sufficient 
cause for a change of government, if the desire to pass the 
Redistribution Bill had not operated. The step that was 
now taken caused some difficulty. A dissolution of Parlia- 
ment was impossible until both the new franchise and the 
new distribution of seats were in operation ; and it 
became necessary therefore for Lord Salisbury to consider 
taking office without a majority in the Commons. Not 
unnaturally he began by stipulating for a promise of 
support from the outgoing Liberals. In the end he took 
office without any definite promise, but with an under- 
standing that necessary matters, such as supply, would not 
be contested. Yet the brief remainder of the life of this 
Parliament was not to be devoid of interest or importance. 
Now that the party balance was again in question the Irish 
vote recovered that power of swaying the scales, which 
since 1882 it had largely ceased to possess. For some time 
coercion, which at the period of the Phoenix Park murders 
had been restored without compunction, had been afflicting 
Radical consciences ; though the revival of dynamite 
outrages had blurred sensitiveness on the subject. Those 
outrages had not ceased. At the very beginning of 
January 1885 there was another explosion on the Under- 
ground Railway, this time between Gower Street and 
King's Cross stations ; only slight personal injuries 
resulted. On 24th January there was another group of 
simultaneous explosions, such as the previous year had 
seen, and these were the most notorious explosions of this 
period of Fenianism. They occurred in Westminster Hall, 
in the House of Commons itself, and in the White Tower 

1 See an article on English Public Life in The Edinburgh 
Review, July 1911. 


of the Tower of London. In Westminster Hall two 
policemen were very seriously injured, but practically no 
damage, save to the stone flooring, was inflicted on the 
building ; the concussion had the extraordinary effect 
of shaking down from the timbers of the roof the 
dust of ages, and those who entered the hall directly 
afterwards walked on a thick grey carpet of it. Parlia- 
ment had not yet met ; consequently the explosion in the 
House of Commons, beyond half-wrecking the seats and 
galleries, had no result, except the natural alarm at the 
thought that dynamite could be deposited in a spot 
normally so well policed. In the Tower of London several 
people were injured, and damage done by a fire which 
followed the explosion. Yet when party exigencies 
required it, politicians did not find that difficulty in keeping 
their minds clear of a confusion between Fenianism and the 
Home Rule movement, which they were equally ready on 
other occasions to indulge. Some of them displayed 
certainly after the change of government a suppleness 
which those who were not politicians found unaccountable. 
The spectacle of Lord Randolph Churchill supporting, 
and even Sir Michael Hicks Beach regarding benevolently, 
a motion by Parnell calling attention to Lord Spencer's 
" maladministration of the law " under the Coercion Act, 
was bewildering to most, and repugnant to many. Lord 
Randolph Churchill's reputation stamped his share in 
the matter as being purely tactical. But what was to be 
thought of the speech delivered in the House of Lords 
by the new Viceroy of Ireland, Lord Carnarvon ? x He 
had been Governor-General of British colonies, and in his 
speech he remarked that, as he had seen those communities 
living in loyal obedience to the law and the Crown, so he 
could not see at home " any irreconcilable bar to the unity 
and amity " of English and Irish. It was a hint, rather 
than a statement ; the only positive part of the speech was 
1 The Times, /th July 1885. 


its repudiation of coercion. But since it was a speech made 
by the new Viceroy in the presence of the new Prime 
Minister (and a speech by a viceroy was in any case so un- 
usual that it had had but two precedents since the Union) * 
no slight interpretation of its meaning could easily be 
formed. It was not an unfair conclusion that the precedent 
of the self-governing colonies was in the Ministry's mind. 
What had the Liberals to set against it ? The answer is, 
a policy of local self-government, for which at this moment 
Mr Chamberlain stood most prominently. He was taking 
a strong line, and in June 1885, just after the defeat of 
Mr Gladstone's Ministry, had shown his sense of the 
suddenly restored importance of the Irish vote by making 
the famous speech in which he compared the existing rule 
of Ireland to the rule of oppressed Poland ; an Irishman 
"could not move without an official controlling him." 
At the same time his policy amounted not to a separate 
government for Ireland, but only to a system of local 
councils, under a central board in Dublin. Even that 
degree of Irish independence had not been accepted by 
most of his colleagues ; and meanwhile on the Conservative 
side Lord Randolph Churchill's fair words to Ireland were 
so much disliked that at a great meeting at Liverpool, 
which he addressed at the end of July, the two members 
for the constituency in which he spoke took the serious 
step of declining to appear on the platform. The Irish 
party was thus confronted with a situation in which 
two conciliatory policies were being expressed, but neither 
with such authority that it could be definitely selected at 
the expense of the other. Strong as Lord Carnarvon's 
speech had been, it could not be used to pin the new 
Government down. As soon as Liberals began to for- 
mulate the idea that between Lord Salisbury, Lord 
Randolph Churchill, and Parnell there was an understand- 
ing as to the support of the Irish vote, it was seen that 

1 Motley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 211. 


nothing had happened to render impossible a flat denial 
of any such understanding. 1 

A summer of most unusual heat interrupted political 
warfare. The thermometer more than once reached 
90 in the shade ; and trade, which had begun the 
year somewhat slackly, had no chance of recovery when 
the heat combined with the collapse of the session to send 
people at an early date out of town. The sight of the 
unemployed at the beginning of the year had given some 
measure of the commercial conditions. There were those 
among business men who thought that one cause of weak- 
ness was that means of production had outstripped means 
of distribution ; this was a Lancashire view. Trade was 
bad not only in England, but all over the world, largely 
because of the appreciation of gold ; and at the same time, 
although capital was cheap, there was little encouragement 
towards speculation. 2 A Royal Commission on Trade 
had been asked for, and was believed to be in process of 
formation ; but its actual appearance was delayed, and 
many people felt that after all, with the various nostrums 
then in the market Bimetallism, Fair Trade, and the 
repeal of the Bank Act, for example a commission might 
be but a hotbed for faddists. Its best work would prob- 
ably lie in inquiring into the relations between British 
traders and foreign customers, and into the possibility of 
more assistance to those relations from the Foreign Office. 
Meanwhile so much change was beginning in the banking 
world that it seems to be fair to conclude that the struggle 
of trade with enlarged competition and narrowed coinage 
supply was leading to a reconsideration of the principles 
of banking. In 1885 Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co. decided 
to register themselves under the Companies Acts (though 
not with limited liability), and so undertake the statutory 
duty of publishing a balance sheet ; this was thought to be 

1 See The Times, 8th and loth August 1885. 

2 See a speech by Mr Goschen, The Times, 24th June 1885. 


a good example for private banks to follow. An equally 
important change is seen in the commencement about 
this time of the absorption of small banks into larger 
combinations ; the Capital and Counties Bank took over 
the Gloucestershire Banking Company in 1885 ; and 
there had previously been one or two amalgamations in 
the Birmingham district. The relief of the gold supply 
had not yet begun, though the progress of events in 
the Transvaal is marked by the description of the new 
"slimes" process for dealing with gold from deep levels. 1 
Early in the summer the Royal Commission on the 
Housing of the Poor issued a first interim report. It 
recommended for the time being a more active enforce- 
ment of the existing law ; but it proposed also the 
purchase of three prison sites those of Coldbath Fields, 
Pentonville and Millbank and setting them free for 
housing purposes by demolishing the prisons. That at 
Coldbath Fields was already out of use, and Millbank was 
shortly to be abandoned as a place of detention. A 
Bill to forward these recommendations was passed by 
Parliament after the change of Government. It also 
strengthened and made applicable to the whole country 
certain powers of the Local Government Board hitherto 
confined to London, and contained a provision that any- 
one letting a house to a tenant without taking reasonable 
precautions for the health of the inmates would be liable 
for any death due to his negligence. A more remarkable 
provision (especially as events had placed the Bill in Tory 
hands) was a stipulation that the two prison sites which it 
had been decided to take over should not be taken at their 
market value ; this was regarded as a step towards State 
socialism. 2 Still more curious in the mouth of Lord 
Salisbury, who moved the second reading of the Bill in the 
House of Lords, was a clause deciding that the price of land 

1 The Times, i2th August 1885. 

2 Ditto, 1 7th July 1885. 


for housing purposes was not to be the best that could 
be got, but the best that in all the circumstances could 
reasonably be obtained. So easy a thing was the Fair 
Rent principle when its field of operation was not Ireland ! 
Oddly enough, there was less comment on the clause 
empowering the Local Government Board to set Housing 
Acts in operation, a duty hitherto left to local authorities. 
Society lost in this year two or three notable figures. 
Lord Houghton died in August with one of the most famous 
and most charming of death-bed sayings on his lips : 
" Yes, I am going to join the majority, and, you know, 
I have always preferred minorities." Both the charm and 
the truth of the saying were characteristic of him ; he was 
never prone to take the facile view of things ; and under 
his typically English appearance there lay an essentially 
un-English nature, alike in his ease of manner and in his 
wide tolerance. At the beginning of October died Lord 
Shaftesbury, a man whose natural goodness directed him, 
as perhaps natural goodness seldom does, into the very 
paths where he could most fulfil himself. He was proud, 
somewhat intolerant of opposition, unyielding in principle, 
and for those reasons unlikely to have made his life success- 
ful in the normal paths of office ; but, diverted by his 
passionate sympathy and eager mind into philanthropic 
paths, he found every quality he had work together for 
good. 1 He died before he had seriously to measure his zeal 
for doing what he thought right by the working poor against 
the working men's new inclination to judge what they 
themselves thought to be their due from the community. 
But his advocacy of the Factory Laws had been the first 
assault upon individualism an assault made much more 
effective by the support of his great name. A person 
socially less lofty, but none the less a real figure of the 

1 For the characters of Lord Houghton and Lord Shaftesbury 
see Mr G. W. E. Russell's Collections and Recollections, chapters iii. 
and v. 


London world, was Sir Moses Montefiore, who died in July, 
well past his hundredth year ; he was associated with 
the Rothschilds, and had been the second Jewish sheriff of 
London, just after the days of Emancipation. 

Of material progress the year offers little to record. 
The Manchester Ship Canal Bill at last was law, after 
having had to be promoted three times. The enormous 
cost of these preliminary stages raised the whole question 
of the oppressiveness of private bill procedure, and the 
futility of a separate inquiry before a committee of each 
House ; but the criticism died down in the face of 
more stirring parliamentary events. Before the end of 
the year it was said that the project had already reduced 
railway freights between Manchester and Liverpool from 
9s. 2d. a ton to 8s. a ton. 1 Naval experts were excited 
by the trials of the first submersible boat. It had been 
invented by Nordenfeldt, the gunmaker, and it was sixty- 
four feet long, constructed of steel plates varying from 
five-eighths of an inch in thickness at the centre to three- 
eighths of an inch at the ends. It was submerged partly 
by filling water-tanks and partly by the action of vertical 
propellers, and when under water its fire-box was sealed, 
and pressure was obtained from tanks previously heated. 
Its best performance was staying down for six hours with 
a crew of four men. 2 The invention gave fresh point to 
the advocacy of liquid fuel for the navy, which Admiral 
Selwyn started this year. But a steam submarine was .not 
a very practicable machine, and the idea made no real 
advances till electricity had become much more potent. A 
new electric locomotive made its appearance in November, 
the fresh principle being a revolving motor rendering 
belt transmission unnecessary, which was one more step 
toward electric trams. Meanwhile the steam tram at last 
invaded London, and one was running on the North 

1 The Times, 3oth October 1885. 
8 Ditto, ist October 1885. 


Metropolitan lines. A strange new method of propelling 
vehicles must be modestly recorded at this point. A 
Mr Butler constructed a vehicle, in the form of a tricycle, 
which was driven by an internal combustion engine. Ever 
since the days of Trevethick's steam carriage, in 1802, 
mechanical propulsion of carriages had interested inventors. 
Against a dead weight of opposition they pursued their 
schemes, and for heavy haulage steam traction engines had 
long been in use, under the strict limitations of the Act of 
1865, which forbade a speed of more than four miles an hour, 
and enjoined that every such vehicle must be preceded by 
a man carrying a red flag. Even this discouragement did 
not wholly extinguish invention, and in 1881 an attempt, 
though a vain one, had been made to prove that the Act 
did not apply to a steam tricycle. Mr Butler's was a com- 
pletely fresh start. He applied to his machine the prin- 
ciple of exploding vapour benzoline vapour was the one 
he used inside the piston cylinder by means of an electric 
spark. At the same time Gottlieb Daimler in France was 
applying the same principle, but using petroleum spirit 
to provide the vapour. 1 As far as England is concerned 
the subject has to be left for the present, with Mr Butler's 
isolated idea useless in face of the Act of 1865, and 
commercially still-born. 

The demand for sixpenny telegrams had been acceded to, 2 
but the details required no little arrangement, since under 
the old minimum of a shilling the names and addresses 
of the receiver and the sender had been transmitted free 
of charge, and the Post Office declined to continue this 
practice with a sixpenny minimum. This year also saw 
the completion of the Revised Version of the Bible, the 
version of the Old Testament having been finished on 
1st May, after fifteen years' work. The New Testament 
version had been finished and published two or three years 

1 See the article on Motors in the Encyclopedia Britannica. 
The new system came into force on ist October 1885.' 


earlier. The Church of England was at present in smoother 
water, and the Ritual controversy had largely declined. 
Evangelicalism, indeed, had not weakened ; for a year or 
two earlier the Church Army had been founded (it held its 
first large annual meeting on 28th May 1884) to take up 
in the streets and byways the same kind of work as the 
Salvation Army was doing. The latter still met with 
strong opposition ; dragoons had to be called out to quell 
a fight between it and the Skeleton Army at Worthing, 
and there were savage riots at Derby, in which stones flew 
and the band instruments were used as weapons. A 
somewhat old-fashioned outbreak of morality in this year 
was the discussion of the nude in art which accompanied the 
course of the Royal Academy Exhibition in the summer. 1 
A more important event in the history of art is that in 1885 
was founded the New English Art Club. There had been 
until now hardly any opportunity for an artist not in accord 
with the theory and practice of the Royal Academy to set 
his work before the public. The Grosvenor Gallery had, 
indeed, attached to itself the Pre-Raphaelite group and 
the aesthetic movement. But it had no inclination to 
pass outside the safe financial ground provided by a craze. 
Meanwhile there had been growing up in England a school 
of painters, trained for the most part in Paris, whose work, 
not so mannered as to take the ecstatic fancy of the 
aesthetic, nor so consciously original as to have a public of its 
own, like Whistler's, was nevertheless vital and revolution- 
ary enough to fail altogether of entrance to the Academy. 
The work of this school had been the most notable feature 
of the Glasgow Exhibition of 1881, and it was high time 
that it should be seen in London. The New English Art 
Club gathered genius and talent which has ever since 
sapped the reputation of the Royal Academy. 

In the world of education the year 1885 is significant 
as showing the first signs of a general acceptance of 
1 The Times, 22nd May, and other dates, 1885. 


new duties. At a conference in Manchester it was stated 
with some pride that Owens College was in a position 
to offer to the working man a choice of three hundred 
lectures, the cost of which was voluntarily met by Man- 
chester residents. Towards the end of the year the 
People's Palace scheme took shape, the object again being 
the provision of advanced education for working men and 
women ; and something of the same sort is to be traced 
in the movement for making the London University a 
teaching body, instead of a merely examining body. 
The year saw also a notable step forward in science, 
photography being for the first time successfully applied 
to astronomical purposes. The value of this was promptly 
seen in the proposal, emanating in the first instance from 
Dr Gill, Astronomer Royal at the Cape, for international 
co-operation in a great work of charting the heavens. 

The autumn brought with it the uproar of a general 
election, in which one great issue was obscured by con- 
flicting half-lights. Over the field of politics there were 
issues enough. Mr Chamberlain's speeches outlined the 
whole range of the Radical programme, including bank- 
ruptcy reform, a reform of the Charity Commission with 
a view to" enlarging the social area of educational endow- 
ments, county government reform, free education, cottages 
and land for labourers, shipping measures, a graduated 
income tax; and some form of self-government for Ireland, 
and disestablishment of the Church of England. Mr Glad- 
stone's manifesto was naturally less far-reaching. On his 
own side critics called it a " rather weak production," and 
opined that " if it was not that the party are ready to take 
anything from him, it would fall rather flat." * He placed 
first reform of the procedure of the House of Commons, and 
on county government reform avoided committing himself 
to a definite scheme ; on the land question he proposed the 
1 Lord Hartington to Mr Goschen : Elliot's Life of Lord Goschen, 

ij. 2; 


abolition of entail and a system of freer transfer, adding 
that he " would rejoice if these or other means in them- 
selves commendable led to a large increase in the owners 
of the soil"; on disestablishment he spoke oracularly, and 
seemed to regard it as but a distant possibility ; on free 
education he was careful to point out the disadvantages ; 
on Ireland he expressed himself in favour of the greatest 
possible extension of self-government consistent with 
maintenance of the authority of the Crown and Parliament. 
Of these proposals one that of county government 
reform was as prominent in the programme of the other 
side. The existing confusion of the spheres of local 
authorities was extreme, the justices administering some 
Acts, the local Health Boards others, the Guardians of the 
Poor and the School Boards still others. Disestablishment 
had appeared somewhat unexpectedly as a very forcible 
item in the election ; apparently there was some hope that 
the newly enfranchised might be moved on the subject, 1 and 
it was at any rate found, as the polling time approached, 
that nothing more interested the electors. Mr Chamber- 
lain had by this time rather drawn in his horns ; he had had 
an interview with Mr Gladstone at Hawarden on 8th 
October, and by the end of the month was saying that 
disestablishment could hardly be dealt with in the coming 
Parliament. But many candidates were already com- 
mitted to it, and churchmen were roused in every constitu- 
ency. Against the general Liberal programme the Tories 
had not, beyond county government, much positive line 
of their own. But they made a good fight out of the 
differences between Mr Gladstone and the advanced 
Radicals. Lord Randolph Churchill vastly increased his 
reputation at this sort of warfare, and did not shrink from 
competing with Mr Chamberlain on his own caucus ground. 
He became president of the Conservative News Agency, 
an organisation for supplying caricatures and pamphlets 
1 See, e.g., The Times, nth April 1885. 


to candidates in all constituencies, and for supplementing 
the resources of local newspapers. The mistake of raising 
the disestablishment question enough to irritate the clergy, 
and then dropping it enough to discourage Nonconformists, 
was a notable score for the Tories. It may be added here 
that the Woman Suffrage movement had been so far 
forwarded by the opportunities it had received for debate 
in the House that it had been able to exact after the 
General Election more precise information of the position 
occupied by the question in the opinions of the new House. 
Out of 495 members for England and Wales 253 were in 
favour of Woman Suffrage and 102 against ; of the 72 
Scottish members 24 were in favour and 18 against ; of 
the 86 Irish members 25 were in favour and 3 against. 

Behind all the electoral conflict was that issue which we 
have described as obscured by half-lights. The Liberals 
offered Ireland local government by councils. The Tories 
made no specific offer ; but it was fairly well known that 
Parnell had spoken of having got " something better " 
than the Liberal offer. 1 He himself had declared outright 
for national independence in a speech at Dublin in August 
1885 ; but no one in England supposed the " something 
better " to amount to this ideal. The final disposal of the 
Irish vote in English constituencies turned on a matter 
that involved no revelations. Mr Gladstone in a speech at 
Edinburgh had spoken of the " dangers of a situation in 
which either party would be liable to be seduced from the 
right path by the temptation which might be offered to 
it by the vote of the Irish members," and exhorted the 
electors of Great Britain to return one party or the other 
by a majority which would make it independent of the Irish 
vote. Some of his followers were dismayed ; they ex- 
pected Parnell instantly to denounce Gladstone as insincere 
in his promises to Ireland, if he was so anxious for an 
independent majority. But Parnell still used no language 
1 Barry O'Brien's Life of Parnell, ii. 137. 


but that of attempting to persuade Mr Gladstone to formu- 
late precisely his proposals with regard to Ireland. Mr Glad- 
stone replied with a rather bantering speech, to the effect 
that he was not in office, and that it did not lie with him to 
make proposals. This it was that stirred Parnell to fury, 
and he issued the sharp manifesto by which the Irish vote 
went to Conservative candidates. 

It did not, however, carry the day in Great Britain : the 
result of the election showed a return of 333 Liberals against 
251 Tories. But the pledged Home Rule party, the 
unquestioning adherents of Parnell, who had been but 35 
in 1880, were now a solid block of 86 ; they had carried 
every seat in Ireland that was not Conservative. As for 
the newly enfranchised electorate, analysis showed that 
the Tory fears had been singularly unfounded, and their 
opposition to the Franchise Bill, as a piece of party legisla- 
tion, singularly foolish. Of a county electorate of 2,303,133 
voters no less than 1,837,088 had gone to the poll, and of 
these votes 1,020,774 had been Liberal, and 816,314 
Conservative. It was a fair deduction that party divisions 
ran now to the bottom of English life, and that there was no 
such class feeling as had made the sweeping results after the 
Reform Bill of 1832. A minor interest of the election, but 
one which closes for the time a subject of prominence in the 
few previous years, was the general defeat of the " Fair 
Trade " party. Its leader, Mr Ecroyd, had been beaten 
in Lancashire ; Mr James Lowther lost his seat in Lincoln- 
shire, and four or five other candidates committed to the 
policy had been beaten. A general criticism of the results 
on the Tory side was that apathy among their leaders on 
domestic questions, and the activity and force of the trade 
unions, had largely turned the election. 1 

Almost immediately, however, this second start for the 
Liberals was gravely compromised. On 18th December was 
published the famous rumour that Mr Gladstone was con- 
1 The Times, isth December 1885. 


sidering a scheme of complete Home Rule for Ireland ; 
the denial which followed was cautious, amounting to no 
more than that the statement was unauthorised. It was 
enough to set at work the liveliest speculations as to the 
position of Lord Hartington, Mr Chamberlain, Mr Goschen, 
and other Liberal leaders, whose repudiation of any measure 
of real independence for Ireland had been emphatic ; and 
the political year ended in uncertainty and disturbance. 

Socially, too, it ended in apprehension. The approach 
of winter revived all the distressing evidences of unemploy- 
ment, and a new militant atmosphere had been aroused 
by the determined campaign of the police against street 
meetings. In September occurred the first of the cases to 
attract much attention. The police arrested a banner- 
bearer in the midst of a socialist procession, and in the 
police-court case which followed William Morris was fined 
for interference. This drew attention to the Social Demo- 
cratic Federation, which in April had hardly succeeded in 
interesting even the casual crowd of a Hyde Park meeting. 
The free speech campaign grew before the end of the year 
to a size which caused The Times to pronounce upon it as 
very dangerous and ominous, when it was taken in con- 
junction with the Irish agitation, the Crofter movement 
in Scotland, and the whole programme of advanced 
Liberalism. 1 Within twelve months its ominousness 
depended on no conjunction with other movements. In 
general elections labour had as yet no large direct share ; 
but the Trade Union Congress issued in September an 
election address to the trades bidding them demand of 
the candidates promises of land for allotments, of free 
elementary education, and of the removal of " all unneces- 
sary obstacles to civil and magisterial work." In this last 
direction a step had already been taken by the appoint- 
ment of the first working-men magistrates 2 a printer, 

^ist December 1885. 

2 Announced by The Manchester Guardian in May 1885. 


a spinner and a weaver, all secretaries of trade unions, 
being appointed to the Bench of the Duchy of Lancaster 
in May, and a miners' agent being appointed in June. 

In the closing days of 1885 occurred the last Soudan fight 
that was to take place for some years. The withdrawal 
to Wady Haifa was not quite completed when, on 30th 
December, the Khalifa attacked the troops at Ginniss. 
He was badly beaten, 800 of his men being killed ; and 
the chief satisfaction growing out of the battle was that 
Egyptian troops had been engaged, as well as British, and 
had thus had some of their fear of the dervishes removed. 
The general policy in regard to the Soudan had been carried 
on by Lord Salisbury without alteration. 



EVEN at the very dawn of 1886 the great Home 
Rule " split " was in the making. The published 
rumours of Mr Gladstone's intentions were as 
much an effect as a cause of popular speculation about 
them 1 ; speculation had begun, because everyone was 
sure that he must have intentions ; and assurance arose 
from the fact that everyone was pretty certain Lord 
Salisbury had some. However, the actual publication 
of the ideas which Mr Gladstone was said to have in his 
mind did undoubtedly create a new situation; and the 
excitement it caused was not in the least out of proportion 
to the gravity of what was taking place behind the scenes. 
Lord Hartington and Mr Goschen were already half 
alienated. At this crisis, as at the time of the Mid-Lothian 
campaign, Mr Gladstone displayed his curious custom of 
regarding the real factors in a situation as materially 
affected by the formal political factors. He was not in 
office, and Lord Salisbury was ; therefore the circum- 
stances of the election results warranted an understanding 
between the Tories and the Nationalists, in order to keep 
the former in office ; therefore Mr Gladstone felt himself 
justified in awaiting a Tory plan of Irish legislation, and 
his own ideas were not a project in the real sense. This 
was an attitude much like his conviction that even after 
the Mid -Lothian Campaign he was free to accept or 
refuse the Premiership. To Lord Hartington both these 
1 Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 265. 


1886] HOME RULE 175 

cases were equally an empty adherence to forms. What- 
ever might be the political theory of the situation, the 
truth was that Mr Gladstone was considering a plan of 
Irish self-government. This fact dominated the situation. 
If the Tories had any intentions of concession to Ireland, 
they could not now be known ; whenever Mr Gladstone 
moved, his unrivalled position in politics and in the public 
view gave him the field, and the other party merely re- 
acted automatically in the opposite direction. Mr Glad- 
stone did not himself recognise this; he made an offer 
to the Tories, in December 1885, of leaving the field 
to them ; and the argument was used on the Tory side 
that the Irish were Conservative people, only accidentally 
thrown in 1880 on to the Liberal side. 1 But in truth 
the return of the importance of the Irish vote had revived 
as much of old prejudice as of new energy ; and there 
were already complaints of the Irish question being 
" thrust to the forefront," when local government in 
England, land transfer, and the procedure of the House 
of Commons were the questions awaiting decision. 2 
Besides, the nature of the exchange of opinion among 
Liberal leaders must have been shrewdly gauged by the 
Tory leaders, for by the time Parliament met the latter 
had decided upon a course in which no glimmer of their 
last year's temper of tentative concession to Ireland was 
to be found. Not only were they leaving the field to Mr 
Gladstone, but they were going to drive him into it. They 
must have known the instant cost to him. Parliament 
met for the Queen's speech on 21st January ; on 26th 
January notice was given in the House of Commons of the 
Government's intention to introduce a Coercion Bill for 
Ireland, and on the same day the Government fell. Mr 
Jesse Collings carried an amendment to the address on the 

1 See a letter by Mr Wilfrid Blunt in The Times, ist January 

2 The Times, ist January 1886; 

176 HOME RULE [1886 

subject of Labourers' Allotments the " three acres and 
a cow " amendment on which the Irish party voted with 
the Liberals. But the significant point was that eighteen 
Liberals, including Hartington, Goschen, Courtney, Henry 
James, Lubbock, Arthur Elliot and Albert Grey, voted 
against the amendment; and more than fifty Liberals, 
including John Bright, abstained from the division. 
Governments have often been overthrown by more or 
less irrelevant votes ; but what was there in Mr Collings's 
victory to cause The Times at once to start the idea that 
"a sagacious Liberal Leader" Lord Hartington, for choice 
should seize the opportunity to construct a new party 
out of equally dissatisfied Liberals and Conservatives ? 
To that degree had the " split " already become notorious. 
Meanwhile, on 28th January, Lord Salisbury resigned 
office, and on 1st February Mr Gladstone became Prime 
Minister for the third time. 

As if the year were not opening in sufficiently unusual 
circumstances, a thoroughly startling event now inter- 
rupted the bent of public attention. The troubles and 
distress of the unemployed had failed to attract notice 
amid the political excitement. On 8th February a meeting 
was being held in Trafalgar Square, which appears to have 
been chiefly an occasion taken by the Fair Trade speakers 
to call attention to unemployment as a product of Free 
Trade. Suddenly the meeting was invaded by men from 
branches of the Social Democratic Federation, headed by 
Hyndman, John Burns, and Champion. To them such 
a gathering seemed a mere exploiting of the sufferings of 
the unemployed for a political purpose, and they captured 
it. In an instant its temper was wholly and violently 
changed. A seething mob left the Square, marched 
through Pall Mall, St James's Street, and Piccadilly, 
smashed the club windows from which men were looking, 
as they had looked before, at the woeful procession, over- 
turned and smashed broughams and other private carriages 

1886] HOME RULE 177 

and then divided into raiding parties, which went breaking 
windows and doors along South Audley Street, Oxford 
Street and Regent Street. For a couple of hours the 
mob held these sacred precincts in terror. The police 
had been entirely taken by surprise, and could not muster 
in time. No life was lost, no personal injuries were in- 
flicted ; the crowd was admitted next day to have had 
" forbearance," and to have included a large proportion 
of men who though poor and distressed had no thought of 
crime 1 : but all the same London at large felt that it had 
had its glimpse of revolution. This, it said to itself, was 
at the back of the vague mutterings it had heard about 
street-corner meetings and the right of free speech ; and 
it proceeded to draw the distinction, which has always 
comforted the respectable classes, between the genuine 
unemployed and the agitator. The latter was pronounced 
a " moral dynamiter," and the former class was said to 
be made up of the " inevitable " products of casual labour, 
bad housing and laziness. Yet fright remained strong 
enough to cause the ventilation of some rather vague 
plans for undertaking " public works " to give employ- 
ment ; and from letters written to the newspapers by 
various employers it is plain that they at least knew better 
than to blind themselves by drawing facile distinctions 
in regard to the temper of labouring men. While no 
one was arrested on account of the startling incidents 
in London, trouble was brewing elsewhere. There was 
rioting in Bristol ; and in Gateshead, Glasgow, Manchester, 
Norwich, Nottingham and Sheffield there was such acute 
distress that at any moment outbreaks might occur. 2 
In Manchester, indeed, there was a small riot, which had 
a curious origin ; it began not with the mere holding of a 

1 The Times, loth February 1886. 

8 In Leicester, where the battle between vaccination and its 
opponents was raging, prosecutions were suspended at this time, 
because of the prevailing distress. 

178 HOME RULE [1886 

socialist meeting one Sunday at the end of February, but 
with the gathering of a crowd after the public-houses 
closed in the afternoon, to attack the socialists. 

Those menaces, however, died down again for a time. 
They had not yet, so far as could be seen, affected the 
trade unions ; and the trouble was regarded as merely 
an unfortunate conjunction of theories in themselves 
negligible with the existence of an unusual degree of 
destitution. Interest swung back to politics, but prac- 
tically to only one subject in politics. The annexation 
of Burma, announced on 2nd January, passed almost un- 
noticed ; a military expedition from India had occupied 
Mandalay early in December 1885, and King Theebaw and 
his army had surrendered ; the stories of his cruelties and 
excesses made him for a short time a kind of popular ogre. 
On the same date it was announced that an envoy had 
started for Abyssinia, with autograph letters from the 
Queen, a mission which, issuing first in the withdrawal 
under agreement with King Menelik of the Soudan garri- 
sons near his frontier, established relations with him 
important to many British interests. On the same date, 
again, were published rumours that Bishop Hannington 
had been killed by the King of Uganda. But Central 
Africa could not attract any attention while Mr Gladstone 
was gathering a new Cabinet about him. Of his old 
colleagues, Lord Hartington, Lord Derby, Lord North- 
brook and Mr Bright were absent from it ; and Mr Goschen 
had not taken that place in it which a few months before 
would certainly have been his. Mr Chamberlain had 
joined ; but both he and Sir George Trevelyan allowed it 
to be known that they committed themselves no further 
than to an examination of proposed legislation for Ireland ; 
it was the public belief that Mr Chamberlain intended to 
try for his own solution of local councils for Ireland ; but 
no one knew whether he had still in mind that Central 
Board in Dublin which had previously been the suspected 

1886] HOME RULE 179 

feature of the scheme. 1 Cabinet meetings throughout 
February and March were of unprecedented frequency. 
The public speculated on the possibility of Mr Gladstone's 
resignation, and the construction of a new Liberal Cabinet 
under Lord Hartington, with Lord Wolseley as Lord 
Lieutenant of Ireland, to carry out a policy of severe 
repression, with local government to follow. Then on 
26th March Mr Chamberlain and Sir George Trevelyan 
resigned ; Mr Gladstone remained in office, and the nation 
knew that it would have to consider a full Home Rule 
proposal. The death of Mr W. E. Forster, occurring on 
5th April, caused at this moment a recalling of recent 
Liberal relations with Ireland, which may well have con- 
firmed in their opinion both those Liberals who were 
determined to make a new effort, and those who felt that 
for the present there could be no new way. Each group 
read in its own fashion the life-story of the most bitterly 
disillusioned of them all. 

The concentration of interest on the one subject was 
assisted in some measure by proceedings which for the 
time being held the socialist movement in suspended 
animation. Four of its leaders Hyndman, Burns, 
Champion and J. E. Williams were put on their trial 
for sedition. The failure of the authorities to make any 
arrests after the riotous proceedings of 8th February 
in London had produced a newspaper agitation, which 
finally forced them into taking such steps as could be taken 
to meet the pressure of opinion. Socialist meetings were 
continually going on, and the speeches at them provided 
sufficient excuse for some Government action. But not, 
as proved, sufficient evidence to support a heavy charge. 
The trial was a long one, the defendants being, of course, 
committed to the Old Bailey. They were acquitted, 
though the jury allowed themselves the expression of a 
rider to the effect that Burns and Champion had used 
1 Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 194. 

180 HOME RULE [1886 

language inflammatory and greatly to be condemned. The 
importance of the trial lay in the new view that it gave 
to people of superficial thought of the quality of these 
leaders of socialism. Such men as Morris and Edward 
Aveling, indeed, the respectable world had heard of ; it 
dismissed the rest as " ranters." But four men who could 
conduct their own case at the Old Bailey to an acquittal, 
men of whom only one was in the middle-class sense 
educated, were a new portent ; and from that day the 
ordinary view of working-class disaffection took a different 
turn. In general, the trial, by removing the whole matter 
from the streets to courts of justice, took it for the time 
out of the foreground of the popular mind. 

The House of Commons at the moment practically 
marked time, awaiting the Home Rule Bill ; but it had 
one interesting incident when a Woman Suffrage Bill 
came up (of course, a private member's Bill) at the very 
end of the sitting on 19th February. Only an hour of 
time remained, and that was largely occupied by the 
protests of members against the mere idea of considering 
such a Bill in such a way. But it ended in the Bill being 
given a second reading ; and, though a vote taken in the 
small hours of the morning in a more than half empty 
House could not be regarded as of genuine importance, the 
supporters of Woman Suffrage were jubilant at having 
established the fact that a second reading for their Bill 
was not an impossibility. This was the first time one 
had ever been given. An academic triumph scored by the 
movement this year was the qualification of the first woman 
surgeon ; Mrs M. E. Dowson, the wife of a London 
engineer, obtained her diploma from the Irish College of 
Surgeons in June. 

The long and frequent Cabinet meetings achieved a 
result which, whether politically good or bad, was beyond 
cavil remarkable ; for they had in six weeks constructed 
from the keel-plate a Bill of the utmost magnitude and the 

1886] HOME RULE 181 

very first order. In the early days of April it was suffi- 
ciently advanced for Parnell to be privately in consulta- 
tion with Mr Morley, the new Irish Secretary; and on 
8th April it was introduced upon a stage in every way 
worthy of it. The House of Commons was crowded to the 
doors, and even the floor space between the table and the 
Bar was covered with benches ; every gallery was full ; 
and many members had come at daybreak to secure their 
seats. Mr Gladstone rose magnificently to the occasion, 
and spoke for three and a half hours. The Bill as it stood 
set up a legislature of two Houses in Dublin x to deal with 
Irish, as distinct from Imperial, affairs, and as a corollary 
excluded Irish members from Westminster; it left the 
control of customs to the Imperial Parliament, fixing the 
Irish contribution to Imperial funds at one-fourteenth of 
the total sum collected, the rest being handed over to the 
Irish Parliament ; it left the control of the police for two 
years in British hands ; the Viceroy was to continue to 
exist, but not as a party appointment, and in his Privy 
Council was to be formed a Cabinet which, as in Great 
Britain, would be the real executive, and would be re- 
sponsible to Parliament. 

|? The first reading of the Bill took place without a division 
on 13th April. Before it reached its next stage the effect 
of its policy on party balance was given an unexpectedly 
swift propulsion. Mr Chamberlain, with that instinct for 
handling the electoral machine which had so distinguished 
him in 1880, went down to Birmingham on 25th April to 
discuss the new situation with the Liberal Two Thousand ; 
they wished to delay their vote, but Mr Chamberlain 
induced them to decide at once, with the result that, by an 
overwhelming majority, they refused their support to the 

1 The Upper House was to consist of 28 representative peers and 
75 elected members ; and the Lower House of 206 elected members. 
The two were to sit together, but either House might demand 
a separate vote. 

182 HOME RULE [1886 

Home Rule Bill. The cleverness of this move lay in its 
preparation of the way for the compact whereby the seats 
of Liberal Anti-Home-Rulers might be left unattacked by 
Conservatives ; this course was, in fact, propounded be- 
fore a month had passed. 1 On 10th May the second read- 
ing debate on the Bill opened, and Lord Hartington moved 
an amendment of simple rejection. Parnell, speaking for 
his party, expressed his intention to attack in committee 
certain points of detail, such as the control of the police, 
and the exact amount of Ireland's contribution to Im- 
perial funds. This may have given a vague sense that 
after all the Irish might not be satisfied, and may have 
turned a few waverers. Others quailed before the pro- 
posals contained in the Bill for buying out the landlords ; 
and Mr Chamberlain had given notice of moving the 
rejection of the Land Purchase Bill which was introduced 
on 16th April to carry out these proposals. Finally, 
Lord Randolph Churchill in the middle of May was inciting 
Ulster to take arms against the Bill, and the position of 
the " loyal minority " was turning yet other votes. For 
a month the fight went on ; calculations of the result 
grew more and more tense, and the most sanguine hope 
on the day before the division was that the Bill might have 
a majority of about six. In that case the presumption 
was that it would be carried no further on such a slight 
majority, but would be taken merely as an assertion of the 
principle of autonomy for Ireland ; the session would be 
prorogued, and the Cabinet would set itself to drafting a 
new Bill which might conciliate some of those who at the 
present stage were objecting only to details. Parnell 
disliked this prospect, which he thought would discourage 
Home Rule Liberals. It never became a practical question. 
In the small hours of 8th June the Bill was rejected by 
341 votes to 311. In effect the vital decision had been 
made a week earlier, when a meeting of dissentient 
1 The Times, i/th May 1886. 

1886] HOME RULE 183 

Liberals, with Mr Chamberlain in the chair, decided not to 
abstain from the division, but to vote against the Bill ; 
this decision gave 93 votes to the Opposition. The 
meeting was finally swayed by the influence which, out- 
side as well as inside Parliament, most deeply affected 
Liberals who had an uncertain mind on the question the 
influence of John Bright. When he declared against the 
Bill he greatly sharpened the immediate issue. 

London was at the height of the season, and a season of 
such excitement as it had not known for years. In every 
drawing-room the split had made itself felt. One of the 
greatest Liberal peers, the Duke of Westminster, ostenta- 
tiously sold the portrait of Mr Gladstone, which Millais 
had painted for him ; and Birmingham Radicals were 
guests in great Whig houses. Men were blackballed at 
clubs for no other reason than their opinions on Home 
Rule. Hostesses had a new terror to face, for they hardly 
knew from day to day what old friends would no longer 
sit at the same table. To a large part of society Home 
Rule was not only a political tenet : it became a social 
barrier ; and the tendency to regard differences in political 
opinions as implying differences of class a tendency en- 
tirely the product of the last hundred years was con- 
siderably enhanced. For Mr Gladstone himself, even in 
the first outbursts, there was some pity, and some kindly 
feeling. That so unrivalled a political life should end in 
such a scattering of his own forces had an obvious touch 
of melancholy. But on the other hand it was clear that 
only Mr Gladstone could have raised Home Rule to the 
pitch of a party test, and therefore there was little room for 
pity in the general view. Meanwhile, from the standpoint 
of commercial London, the net result of the struggle was 
that town had not for a long time been so full or so busy ; 
and that across the middle of the money-making fell 
dissolution and a general election, the second within seven 
months. The resolution to dissolve was taken by the 

184 HOME RULE [1886 

Government on 10th June, but the agreement of Queen 
Victoria to a somewhat tiresome course was only obtained 
with some difficulty ; she yielded finally to Mr Gladstone's 
representations that a year of embittered Home Rule 
controversy would do more harm than a second dis- 
solution. Complaints from the public were loud ; Mr 
Gladstone was accused of " springing the election on 
an absolutely unprepared country," and was warned that 
he would find Scotland and Wales, those Liberal strong- 
holds, far less in his favour than he supposed. Some 
Liberals were complaining that the production of the 
Home Rule Bill had rendered any alternative policy of 
peace towards Ireland extremely difficult l ; others 
wailed in a barren controversy as to whether or no Mr 
Gladstone had done wrong to the party by " concealing 
his thoughts." 2 The truest word came, as so often, 
from a looker-on ; Professor Goldwin Smith, writing 
from Canada to chastise a Liberal Government for bring- 
ing in a Bill with no reasoned defence of it, but only 
sentimentalities about Ireland and the "G.O.M.," re- 
marked also that there was a suspicion, " which, unfor- 
tunately, after what has taken place, cannot be said to be 
fantastic," that the Conservatives had not been far from 
a Home Rule Bill of their own. 3 The recalling of that 
suspicion was the best answer both to those who talked 
of the election being " sprung " upon the country, and to 
those who complained of Mr Gladstone's silence. Events 
had moved so fast that politicians had forgotten how much 
Home Rule had been talked in the previous year, and the 
rumours of Tory intrigues, as well as of Liberal manceuvr- 
ings. The election went rapidly forward ; in spite of some 
acrimony the general compact that the seats of dissentient 

1 See, e.g., Mr Goschen in The Times, i8th June 1886. 
8 See, e.g., the correspondence between Bright and Gladstone in 
The Times, 3rd July 1886. 
3 The Times, ;th July 1886. 

1886] HOME RULE 185 

Liberals should not be attacked by Tories held good ; 
the party was so divided that, although the central 
electoral organisation declared for Mr Gladstone, its big 
new club, the National Liberal, promoted a subscription 
for candidates standing against Home Rule.. Before the 
end of July the new House had been returned with 196 
Liberals instead of 235, 316 Tories instead of 251, and 
74 dissentient Liberals. Only against Home Rule could 
there be said to be a majority ; and the question was how 
far that meant a majority against a Liberal Cabinet in 
general how far, in other words, Home Rule in future 
was to be a permanent Liberal attitude. 

It is more than likely that the damage done to trade by 
a dissolution at the height of the season had some slight 
effect upon the polls. To business men it was peculiarly 
exasperating, since their affairs were not in a condition to 
bear disturbance. The smallness of the bank reserves 
was a standing cause of uneasiness ; and the stock market 
had been restless in face of a railway-rate war in America 
and the " capturing " of line after line by financial mag- 
nates there. Copper had been a badly falling market, too, 
but was felt by this time to have reached a level which, 
if low, was probably healthier than its recent heights ; 
the tin market had had a revival, and so had the sugar 
market, which throughout the early eighties was never in 
quite a normal condition owing to the disturbing effects 
of the bounty system. 1 The shipping trade, if not at the 
moment prosperous, was looking forward more cheerfully, 
since it had just passed through a period of change, and 
triple-expansion engines had now established themselves 
firmly. 2 When business men took a rather wider view of 
commercial conditions than those afforded by the London 
exchanges they could not help seeing that, although in 
their own narrower sense business was not yet good, there 

1 Deputations to Ministers on this subject were frequent. 
* The Times, 2nd January 1886. 

186 HOME RULE [1886 

had been a great change since 1880. The consuming power 
of the people had distinctly improved ; the consumption of 
tea and sugar had risen strongly, and the income-tax 
assessments were also rising. People began in fa.ct to 
ask in some bewilderment, as they faced these signs, what 
was the trade depression ? It is possible that some of the 
apparent depression throughout these years may be traced 
to the steady growth of the limited liability principle in 
trading. In every town businesses were being put upon 
this basis, and with the increased capital thus obtained 
were absorbing or squeezing out of the market the smaller 
middlemen. Great department shops, like the Army and 
Navy Stores, the Civil Service Supply Association, 
Whiteley's, Lewis's, were at their busiest expansion in the 
early eighties. The result was a diminution in the number 
of the channels of trade, without diminution of the volume. 
The bankruptcy statistics were depressing, and individual 
traders in almost every part of the country could speak 
of bad times ; but the broad statistics of the nation's 
housekeeping showed at any rate more financial elasticity 
than it had possessed for years previously. Much might be 
hoped from a period of political steadiness; and the amount 
of capital which was waiting for employment may be 
gathered from the fact that in October, when Guinness's 
made the first of that series of brewery flotations which 
we shall have to deal with later, the capital offered was so 
much over-subscribed that no less than 13,000 letters of 
regret were posted. 

Every trade undertaking seemed in this year to be 
busy at turning itself into a limited liability company. 
Punch described the tendency as a new fashion. At the 
same time capitalists were not losing their caution ; the 
first attempt to float the Manchester Ship Canal, which 
was made in this year, met with failure. The prospectus, 
backed by Rothschilds', was issued on 21st July. The 
contractors, Lucas & Aird, undertook the work for five 

1886] HOME RULE 187 

and three quarter millions, which was less than the 
engineers' original estimates ; the estimated gross revenue 
was put at 885,000 a year ; and interim dividends of 
4 per cent, payable out of capital had been allowed by 
Parliament. 1 But the public proved shy ; Lancashire 
was already full of expensive means of transit, and the 
cotton mills had been built everywhere in accordance with 
railway facilities, and might not, it was thought, easily 
adjust themselves to the canal. The apparent coolness 
of Lancashire investors was remarked, and for the present 
the flotation failed. A trade problem which attained some 
prominence this year, but waited long for a solution, was 
the absence of any power to compel the working in this 
country of patents taken out by foreigners ; the only 
possible procedure was to issue a mandamus to compel the 
patentee to grant licences for manufacture of his patent ; 
but as the mandamus could not reach him the power was 
useless. As for the gold problem, it still sought solution. 
The bimetallists' theories began to gather more force. 
Lord Grey in February of this year brought the whole 
subject forward again, relating it to the most startling 
difficulties of the moment by arguing that the labour 
troubles were largely due to the shortage of gold, since the 
wages bills of employers were in fact going up by the ap- 
preciation of the sovereign, and the masters, without know- 
ing the real reason, felt only that they must cut wages down ; 
while the workman, whose sovereign bought him no more 
than before, could not see why he should be paid less. The 
bimetallist proposal which Lord Grey revived was for the 
issue of one-pound notes payable in silver ; and that for a 
limited period these notes should be issued at the bank in 
exchange for sovereigns, whatever the weight of the latter. 

1 This method of tempting capitalists to put their money into 
large projects was noted by the socialists, who suggested, in 
deputations to Ministers, that it might be applied to relief works 
set on foot for the unemployed; 

188 HOME RULE [1886 

But there were two objections to this the first that, if you 
were to escape the ultimate necessity of reconverting the 
silver into gold, you must come to an international agree- 
ment that gold should cease to be the only valid exchange ; 
and the second (a serious objection which the bimetallists 
never really overcame), that there was no unanimity as to 
the basis of calculation of the relative value at which silver 
was to be coined. The knowledge of the gold supply in 
South Africa was still wide of the mark. The air was full 
of rumours: about one thousand Europeans were said to 
be at the goldfields, and Delagoa Bay and Cape Town were 
alike full of adventurers. Yet the most authoritative 
article of the moment on the goldfields 1 dealt entirely with 
the Barberton and James Town districts, with the opera- 
tions of companies no one of which had a capital of more 
than 200,000, and most had only 25,000 or 30,000; and 
the article concluded with the opinion that the whole 
industry was insignificant in comparison with the great 
days of the Australian fields. The Rand was still being 
kept out of sight by those who knew of it. In the autumn 
a Currency Commission was appointed, with Mr Balfour, 
one of the foremost bimetallists, as its chairman. 

A striking feature of the year was the interest aroused 
by the announcement that Pasteur had discovered a cure 
for hydrophobia. The England of to-day, to which rabies 
is unknown, has forgotten the recurrent horror of deaths 
from the bites of dogs, for which no alleviation had ap- 
peared until Pasteur's system of injection was believed 
to have provided one. Fortunately, in this matter, as in 
that of cholera, medical opinion was by now so sane that re- 
liance upon cure was not allowed to weaken the arguments 
for preventive measures. The public was warned that, 
until the first element of novelty had passed away, it would 
be impossible really to sift the evidence of cures, or to be 
certain that in the cases treated the dogs had been actually 
1 The Times, 2$rd September 1886. 

1886] HOME RULE 189 

rabid ; and meanwhile the wisdom of muzzling orders was 
being steadily emphasised. 

It was not, on the whole, a year of great interest in 
science ; the aesthetic movement was beginning to have 
the effect of shifting middle-class interest from progress 
to literature. Electricity had fallen upon dull times. 
A slight fillip was given to the ballooning craze by the 
voyage across the Channel of a French balloon fitted with 
steering gear, wherewith the aeronauts had manoeuvred 
over ships in the Channel, and dropped imitation torpedoes. 
But a controversy between rival publishers about their 
respective libraries of cheap literature showed the true 
tendency just then of middle-class culture. The con- 
troversy revealed how large and profitable a sale there 
was for cheap standard books. The originator of this 
form of enterprise, Mr H. G. Bohn, had died two years 
before (on 25th August 1884), just as his idea was becom- 
ing a popular success. The contrasts presented to the 
world in Patience were being repeated in the less exalted 
ranks of the community. In society they had already 
begun to fade, and women, instead of hanging on the 
utterances of the exquisite, were filling the schools of arms, 
and devoting themselves to boxing and fencing. Young 
ladies were distressing their parents by travelling on the 
tops of omnibuses ; and playing the banjo was the most 
desirable accomplishment in Mayfair drawing-rooms. The 
elegant pale poets and the massive heavy dragoons of 
Patience were now being repeated ad infinitum at suburban 
tea-parties, in young men who conversed with a finger to 
the brow, and other young men who played lawn tennis, 
and rode high bicycles, and were muscular and obtuse. 
Theosophy began this year to have a rather large and ill- 
informed following, with the result that " astral bodies " 
became a current joke ; and telepathy and phantasms 
occupied the smatterers in science, as well as the Psychical 
Research Society. 

190 HOME RULE [1886 

The promoters of annual exhibitions in London were 
again as successful as they had been with the " Fisheries " 
and the " Healtheries " in attaching their provision of 
mere amusement to a serious subject. This year the ex- 
hibition was of Colonial and Indian products and industries; 
and it fitted very cleverly with that new view of the im- 
portance of the Colonies to which Mr Goschen had given 
expression. 1 The Secretary for the Colonies announced 
that he would be At Home in his department on certain 
days to Colonial representatives ; and the latter, arriving 
in England in July in connection with the exhibition, were 
given an official round of entertainments, the Queen re- 
ceiving them at Windsor, the Admiralty giving them a 
day with the fleet at Portsmouth, and various banquets 
being arranged. Permanent results followed ; at the 
end of the year the Colonial Secretary (Mr E. Stanhope) 
made proposals for a Colonial Conference, to be attended 
by the Agents-General in London, and any leading public 
men from the colonies who might happen to be able 
to come to England a more informal affair than the 
later developments of the kind ; colonial defence and 
telegraphic and postal services were the subjects proposed 
for discussion. It was also largely due to the Colonial 
and Indian Exhibition that, when interest in Queen 
Victoria's approaching Jubilee began to be strong, the 
Prince of Wales suggested the foundation of the Imperial 
Institute, to give permanence to the kind of presenta- 
tion of colonial activities this year had achieved. The 
main sporting event of the year was the racing for the 
America Cup, for which, after a long interval, a challenge 
had been sent from England. The British representative 
was the Galatea, and the winds proved far too light for 
her. Her rival, the Mayflower, had been given the 
" skimming-dish " form, which was then so new that it 
had not been ventured upon for the boat that had to 
iSeep. 158. 

1886] HOME RULE 191 

cross the Atlantic before the contest ; the Galatea's beam 
was 15 feet, the Mayflower's 23-5 feet, and the Galatea's 
draught was 13-5 feet, while the Mayflower's was only 9 feet. 

The sporting world was shocked later in the year by the 
suicide of Fred Archer, the most popular jockey of his 
day. 1 He rode in the course of his career no less than 2746 
winners, and his great gift was in riding horses that could 
not possibly have won with any other jockey. The sensa- 
tion caused by the news of his suicide has, too, more than a 
personal importance ; it marks, and was felt at the time to 
mark, the enormous increase in the popularity of racing, 
which had been growing up almost unobserved. The 
interest in Fred Archer reached households which twenty 
years before would have paid no attention to his death ; 
and his pleasant steady character had done much to break 
down the old view of the turf as a disreputable interest 
for anyone but owners. His suicide was attributed to 
depression of spirits caused by the incessant " wasting " to 
keep down his weight. 

When the new Parliament met there was in it a party 
which as yet was no party. What were dissentient 
Liberals to do ? The Liberal headquarter organisation had 
exiled them ; and indeed after the results of the election 
they were not likely to want to attach themselves to a 
party standing for Home Rule. Yet were they going to 
abandon all Liberal principles ? The only answer to this 
question was that when asked, towards the end of July, 
to formulate a new Radical programme of reform, and 
found a new club upon it, Mr Chamberlain replied that 
after such an upheaval it would be better to wait a few 
months before taking any definite steps. 2 Mr Chamberlain, 
there can be little doubt, was feeling solitary at the 
moment. He had political satellites, but no political 
friend. Lord Hartington acted with him in regard to 
Home Rule, but the gulf between the two on other topics 

1 8th November 1886. 2 The Times, 28th July 1886. 

192 HOME RULE [1886 

was too great to be easily bridged. It happened unfor- 
tunately that at the same time Mr Chamberlain, by another 
current of events, lost the help of a genuine political 
friendship. Sir Charles Dilke, whose own entrance into the 
Government of 1886 had been, owing to his great ability 
and wide democratic sympathies, combined with an unusual 
knowledge of foreign affairs, quite beyond question, had 
secured Mr Chamberlain's presence in that Government 
by refusing to serve himself unless Mr Chamberlain were 
invited to join. Now at the crisis of the latter's career, 
Sir Charles Dilke withdrew from Parliament, his personal 
honour and morality having been brought into question by 
a case in the law courts. Thus isolated, Mr Chamberlain 
decided to travel abroad for some time, leaving politics 
and Liberal Unionism behind him. The Government had 
in the end been formed on a purely Conservative basis. 
Lord Salisbury had offered (though at the time this was not 
definitely known) to stand aside in favour of Lord Hart- 
ington, and to serve under him if he would form a Govern- 
ment. But Lord Hartington was not a man who moved 
at that speed, and the offer was declined. A Cabinet was 
formed in which there was only one appointment that 
excited comment. Lord Randolph Churchill, the bane 
of his leaders, the rash apostle of Tory Democracy, the 
incalculable element in the party, was made Chancellor of 
the Exchequer, with the leadership of the Commons. No 
wonder men thought that old political traditions were 
perishing, if the path to office was to make yourself 
obnoxious to your leaders, and a will-o'-the-wisp to your 
constituents. At the same time no one doubted Lord 
Randolph's brilliancy ; and as it was now evident that the 
Conservative working man was a reality, there might be less 
temptation to embark on " Tory Democracy " as a policy. 
The only doubt was whether he would manage well the 
somewhat delicate relations with the dissentient Liberals. 
For some weeks the latter were too much taken up with 

1886] HOME RULE 193 

their own difficulties to be critical. By August they had 
acquired a name. The Liberal Unionist Association had 
been formed outside Parliament; but it was ultimately 
announced that Mr Chamberlain and all the dissentients 
were joining it. 1 During the autumn sitting the new party 
were sufficiently established to be showing signs of offence 
at their treatment in the House of Commons ; there were 
complaints that the Tories howled them down, but were 
afraid of the real Home Rulers. A sign of very strained 
relations was given in the Birmingham municipal elections, 
where the Liberal Unionists supported Gladstonian Liberal 
candidates, with Mr Chamberlain's approval, because of 
the Tory attitude in the town. 

These ins and outs were supposed to be the only 
legitimate interest of politicians. The heavy hand shut 
down again upon Ireland, the new Government's first step 
being pretty sharply criticised even by many of their 
friends. Sir Robert Hamilton, the Permanent Under 
Secretary for Ireland, was removed from his post, because 
he had been identified with Mr Gladstone's proposals. 
It was felt that this was a serious blow at the principles 
of public service. An agitation for a revision of judicial 
rents in Ireland was being pressed upon the Government, 
partly because the summer of 1886 had seen another 
failure of harvest, and partly on the more general plea that 
the appreciation of gold made the judicial rents unfair ; 
it was pointed out that even in England the rent-roll was 
calculated to have dropped from sixty millions to forty- 
five millions a year, and the evidence before the Royal 
Commission on Trade had tended in the same direction. 2 
The Government refused to take any steps ; evictions 
increased ; " moonlighting " began once more to aggravate 

1 The name was in existence some years earlier (see, for instance, 
an article in The Fortnightly Review^ vol. i., 1880), but it was now 
first definitely adopted, as a party name. 

2 See The Pall Mall Gazette -'- Extra " on Irish Rents, 1886.- 


the figures of agrarian crime ; and the Plan of Campaign 
was launched in November. 

Party difficulties blinded politicians once again to the 
very serious trouble at their doors. The temper which 
had broken out in the brief street fury of 8th February, 
and had been suspended for a while by the trial of the 
socialist leaders, was bad enough in June to cause people to 
say that the excitement of elections in London was really 
to be dreaded. Nor was the nervousness confined to 
London ; at Cardiff, for instance, the police were so 
perturbed that, having had to deal with a crowd which had 
given them some difficulty, they went on to fall upon a 
perfectly harmless one, listening to speeches at the Liberal 
Club, and very nearly batoned the new member ; and in 
Liverpool socialist meetings were acting as sparks to the 
magazine of Orange fever which is always in store there. 
Nevertheless London was naturally the centre of anxiety. 
When a big socialist demonstration was held in Trafalgar 
Square at the end of August no less than 2000 police were 
on duty : they had warning enough then to be ready. But 
a new danger was revealed when the socialists took to 
invading other meetings, such as a demonstration in 
favour of Free Education at the beginning of October, 
which had naturally appeared to call for less policing. 
Nor was London allowed to forget the real misery 
which was issuing in these disturbances. A manifesto was 
published by the Social Democratic Federation calling on 
the destitute and unemployed to follow the Lord Mayor's 
Show, silently, in thousands. This was, of course, in- 
stantly forbidden by the police, and the result was that, 
after the Lord Mayor's Show had turned as usual from the 
Strand down to the Embankment, there was a sudden rush 
of men to Trafalgar Square, and a defiant meeting began. 
But troops were at hand which had been on duty for the 
procession. Suddenly a line of Life Guards appeared 
trotting round the square to a strategic position, and with 

1886] HOME RULE 195 

this force in reserve the police marched into the crowd and 
set to work to scatter it. The energies of the leaders of 
upper-class opinion at this time were turned to attempting 
to separate the distressed from those who were organising 
and leading them. The accepted point of view was that 
open-air meetings were wholly unnecessary, and that the 
socialist demand for free speech was only being craftily 
attached to a genuine trouble, and should be firmly 
handled. 1 The distress, at any rate, had been so pressed 
upon public notice that the closing months of the year were 
full of suggestions for meeting it. There were appeals for 
charity, signed by men of such different views as the Bishop 
of London, Cardinal Manning and Mr Spurgeon ; there 
were requests for a mitigation of the rules of outdoor 
relief, and appeals for funds to enable public bodies to 
set on foot relief works ; a Mansion House Committee was 
appointed to collect information as to the unemployment, 
and to consider schemes to meet it. But as a political 
question the trouble was not allowed to rank ; it was held 
to be " undignified " to expect any reference to it at the 
Lord Mayor's banquet ; and the single exception to this 
attitude, which can be quoted as of any importance, is the 
plea by one whose early death deprived the poor of a good 
friend, Lord Sydney Godolphin Osborne. He was busy in 
October urging the Government to attend as a Government 
to the matter. Though not strictly affairs of the unem- 
ployed, the trouble at this time in Skye, where the military 
were called out against the disaffected crofters, and the 
tithe riots in Lancashire and Wales, should have added 
to the general uneasiness about the temper of the working 
people. It was a time too much disturbed by poverty and 

1 An interesting side-issue was that large new hotels, such as 
the Grand, opened in 1880, and the Metropole, opened in 1885, 
were attracting many visitors, especially Americans, to the neigh- 
bourhood of Trafalgar Square, which was therefore peculiarly 
unsuitable for public meetings. 

196 HOME RULE [1886 

hardship for any very immediate interest to be taken by 
working men in their representation on the benches of the 
House of Commons. Joseph Arch was returned as the first 
agricultural labourer in the House, and the Labour 
members at the beginning of the year numbered nine 
Messrs Abraham, Arch, Broadhurst, Burt, W. R. Cremer, 
Fenwick, Leicester, Pickard and J. Wilson. 

At the end of the year the party problem was suddenly 
galvanised again into prominence. To everyone's amaze- 
ment, Lord Randolph Churchill resigned the Chancellorship 
of the Exchequer. His reason was that he had been unable 
to carry his declared policy of economy against the de- 
mands of the Admiralty and the War Office. Even those 
who sympathised with him felt his resignation, before he 
had so much as produced a Budget, an extraordinarily 
hasty step. It is known now that he calculated on the 
Government being obliged to ask him to resume his post, 
and so give him a vastly strengthened position. But he had 
been too sure that the Liberal Unionists were not yet ready 
for coalition he had considered his possible Conservative 
successors alone. He can hardly be blamed for this. 
On the very day of his resignation, for instance, Mr Cham- 
berlain had been asserting himself " unchanged " on such a 
Radical proposal as that of Disestablishment ; and although 
on 17th December Mr Chamberlain had a great meeting in 
Birmingham, as a counter-blast to a Home Rule meeting 
in November at which Morley and Parnell had spoken, 
it was rumoured on 23rd December that he was consider- 
ing a rapprochement with the Liberal leaders. The 
revival of coercion had held the dissentient Liberals at a 
distance from the Conservatives ; and the truth at which 
the rumours guessed was that Sir William Harcourt, Lord 
Herschell, Mr Chamberlain, Sir George Trevelyan and 
Mr Morley were meeting quietly at Sir William Harcourt's 
house. But the most important person was not there ; 
Lord Hartington had refused to attend ; and meanwhile 

1886] HOME RULE 197 

the Conservatives, really anxious about their position in 
the Commons, were moving heaven and earth to get him 
to accept the leadership there. He would not consent to 
that, but he would do what was at the moment almost as 
much help to the Tories he would persuade Mr Goschen 
to take the Exchequer. The results were considerable; 
the Tories got a Chancellor of the Exchequer who as a 
financier commanded everyone's respect, and were really 
better off in that regard than before Lord Randolph 
Churchill resigned ; but they also got what they valued 
still more, an admission that Liberal Unionists could serve 
under a Conservative Prime Minister. 

The public mind slipped back comfortably into those 
varied plans for celebrating the Queen's Jubilee which 
largely occupied the newspapers in December 1886 ; and 
expended some of its leisure in speculating about Emin 
Pasha. News had filtered through that he alone of all the 
provincial governors of the Soudan was still holding out ; 
and proposals were being made for sending him relief. 



THE report of the Royal Commission on Trade, 
which was one of the first events of the New Year, 1 
proved to be a much more balanced attempt to 
diagnose industrial difficulties than had been anticipated 
at the time of the Commission's appointment. The " Fair 
Trade " remedy was, indeed, recommended by a small 
minority of four commissioners ; but was dismissed by the 
majority on the ground that it was " hardly worth while to 
discuss a scheme which involves at once a total upset of 
our present Budget arrangements, a reversal of our trade 
policy, and a breach with our foreign customers." The 
report dwelt upon some of those inconsistent features of 
the trade situation which had already puzzled the obser- 
vant. There was no falling off in the volume of our foreign 
trade, or in the amount of capital engaged in it, or in the 
accumulation of capital throughout the country, or in the 
aggregate of production. Yet something certainly was 
amiss. The commissioners put part of the responsibility 
down to over-production ; they also suggested, but only 
in tentative terms, that the rise in the value of gold was 
a source of difficulty ; they asserted more confidently that 
the workman was getting wages which were perhaps too 
little affected by falling prices. Their recommendations 
moved, as was to be expected, on extremely official lines ; 
they advised, for instance, that traders should be exhorted 
to cheapen production and so widen the market, and should 
realise that as competition became keener business methods 
1 Published on i/th January 1887? 


1887] THE JUBILEE 199 

must become better ; higher education, and a more 
attentive collection of statistics were corollaries of this 
proposition. But some of the recommendations were 
rather less academic ; they called for re-examination of 
railway traffic rates, for the freeing of canals from railway 
ownership and control, for light railways to assist agricul- 
ture and make possible an industrial decentralisation ; and 
for legislation against counterfeit marking, and for some 
improvement of the Limited Liability Acts. 

Such a document could not mean much to the thousands 
out of employment ; and what it meant to their leaders 
was not conciliatory. Kindly people were ready enough ''; 
to feel sympathetic, and hold drawing-room meetings to 
discuss whether the distress was exceptional or chronic ; 
that distinction was at the time a favourite method of 
attacking the " agitators," the argument being that there 
was always inevitable distress, as a sort of "waste product" 
of an industrial age, and that the prominence given to it 
was only a move of the socialists. The latter were repre- 
sented as objecting to philanthropic inquiry, and resenting 
" inquisition " ; this was, no doubt, one way of describing 
the socialist's impatience at seeing the whole question 
shuffled off into a philanthropic atmosphere against all 
their endeavours to keep it in a political one. But it is 
possible that, like most reformers, they had their eyes so 
firmly set upon the goal that they failed to observe how 
many laps in the race they had already run. It was Lord 
Salisbury, to continue the metaphor, who rang the bell in ' 
one of those moments of frankness with which he was apt 
to disturb his friends and allies. He was replying to a 
correspondent on the subject of State-aided emigration 
a favourite project of the time for relieving industrial 
congestion ; private effort had already established a settle- 
ment of East Londoners in Manitoba. Lord Salisbury 
wrote that until this remedy was more demonstrably a 
success Parliament would not adopt it ; but when it was, 

200 THE JUBILEE [1887 

Parliament would not be frightened by any socialist 
quality in the scheme. " If it is convinced that a measure 
is likely to answer," he said, " it never troubles itself about 
the school of thought from which the measure is drawn." x 
This is in its way a version of the Fabian position ; but the 
socialists, in contact with the problem of the unemployed, 
demanded for it a political formulation ; and the appar- 
ently impregnable habit of treating trade questions as a 
middle-class affair exasperated them into making their 
demand one for separate formulation. They pursued their 
campaign of street meetings, and early in February there 
was more rioting, not only in London, where windows 
were broken in Clerkenwell and up Goswell Road, but also 
at Blantyre and Coatbridge ; in April John Williams was 
arrested again, with some others, after a socialist meeting 
at the Marble Arch. 

One immediate effect 'of the report of the Commission 
on Trade makes this year peculiarly notable. The in- 
sistence upon the need for better trade methods and higher 
education provided a rallying point for all the energy which 
i had been going into municipal art schools and training 
I classes. Here was a piece of work which Parliament might 
well undertake for the business community, the more 
easily as that community had already created the skeleton 
of a system. Lord Hartinffton. to whom technical educa- 
tion in this country owes more than to anyone else, was 
the first prominent public man to take up the idea. In a 
speech at the London Polytechnic on 16th March he urged 
the great municipalities to organise technical education on 
a large scale in subjects suitable to the industrial needs 
of their districts ; as yet, no suggestion was made of any 
other than private provision of the necessary funds. On 
21st March a deputation waited upon Lord Cranbrook at 
the Education Department to ask for departmental action ; 
he, too, attributed the duty of taking action to the local 
1 Letter published in The Times, 22nd February 1885. 

1887] THE JUBILEE 201 

authorities, on the fairly sound principle that they could 
go on to " that real secondary education which can never 
be reached by the Elementary Education Department " ; 
he added a quotation from a speech some years earlier by 
Mr Mundella, to the effect that the idea of giving technical 
education to the whole working class was an entire mistake, 
the inference being that local authorities could move in a 
partial way that would be impossible to a public depart- 
ment. Meanwhile the stirring of a new spirit in education 
was seen in a growing revolt of teachers against " the t 
Juggernaut of percentages " ; they wished for a little more 
flexibility in method, and a little less rigid judgment by j 
examination results ; there was, perhaps, something in 
the dry comment that their revolt was from one point of 
view a confession that the system got a great deal of work 
out of them. 

The death of Sir Joseph Whitworth on 23rd January fa 
may have helped to awaken men to some understanding 
of what modern trade exacted what alertness, what high 
degree of technical knowledge. For he had made his 
immense fortune by certain mechanical inventions which 
were thoroughly of the new movement accurate measur- 
ing machines, true planes, standard gauges, and other 
such implements. He himself had had no technical 
education beyond that which he picked up in engineering 
shops ; personally he was in the tradition of the story-book 
men of business who build up a fortune on a foundation 
stone of half-a-crown, and was to the end of his life a rather 
rough man, with a passion for trotting horses. But his 
work made such education more than ever necessary for 
other men. In the end, he also made it more attainable 
in his own city, for he left the greater part of his huge 
fortune on trust for public purposes in Manchester, and 
the first expansion of technical education there was due 
to his bequest. 

The greatest fillip of all to technical education was given 

202 THE JUBILEE [1887 

by the fortunate association of it with the great affair in 
all men's minds this year the Jubilee. When the cele- 
bration was only a month away, and popular enthusiasm 
for the Queen at its height, she went down to open the 
Queen's Hall of the People's Palace in Mile End Road, and 
to lay the foundation stone of the Technical and Handi- 
craft Schools of that institution. It had grown from a 
long-buried seed. In 1841 Mr Barber Beaumont left a 
arge sum of money " for the intellectual improvement and 
the rational recreation and amusement of the people of 
the East End." There had been no organised means of 
applying the bequest, and for forty years it lay practically 
idle. Then a novel by Walter Besant, All Sorts and Con- 
ditions of Men, drew an imaginary picture of a great palace 
of education and recreation in East London ; men recalled 
the dormant bequest, and the scheme for the People's 
Palace sprang to life. Besant worked hard for it ; Mr 
Beaumont's money did not suffice for the purpose, and 
subscriptions were raised, the great City companies, especi- 
ally the Drapers' Company, contributing largely ; and the 
, project was sufficiently advanced by May 1887 to be able to 
gather to itself some of the Jubilee enthusiasm. Besant 
was presented to the Queen after she had laid the foun- 
dation stone. Meanwhile the City justifiably reminded 
the world that it was doing a good deal already. The City 
and Guilds of London Institute at South Kensington was 
advancing towards completion ; the Finsbury Technical 
College was teaching 169 day students and 764 evening 
students, a large majority of whom were artisans, and 200 
of whom were apprentices ; the South London School of 
Technical Art had 187 pupils ; and the guilds also made 

. grants to the schools of engineering and chemical tech- 
y nology at University College, and the school of metallurgy 

' at King's College. 

The public was ready to be interested in social affairs. 
The uneasiness among the Conservative leaders at the 

1887] THE JUBILEE 203 

time of Lord Randolph Churchill's resignation was one of 
those curious political alarms which belong to pure politics 
and not to real life at all. In point of fact, although people 
were startled and interested by that event, there was in 
the nation at large none of that canvassing of its effect 
upon party relations which Lord Salisbury seemed to fear. 
The nation had had its fill of politics for a while. The new \ 
Franchise and the quarrel between the two Houses of 
Parliament, the death of Gordon, and the Home Rule Bill ' 
had given it two years in which political subjects were 
the prime interest. The ordinary man was quite ready to 
let them slip into the background. One event, however, of 
the beginning of the year touched him. On 12th January 
Lord Iddesleigh died suddenly in an ante-room while wait- 
ing to see Lord Salisbury. It was sad even from the most 
casual point of view. As Sir Stafford Northcote, Lord 
Iddesleigh had had to see his position in the House of 
Commons slowly but remorselessly weakened ; he had been 
too old, too slow, too formal in his leadership of the Opposi- 
tion from 1880 to 1885 to hold his own in a Parliament fresh 
and active. Lord Randolph Churchill's gadfly activities 
had been as damaging to Sir Stafford Northcote as to 
Mr Gladstone; and in the brief Government of Lord 
Salisbury from June 1885 to February 1886 Northcote 
found no place at all ; his leadership in the Commons 
was taken away, and he accepted the consolation of 
a title, going to the House of Lords as Lord Iddesleigh. 
When Lord Salisbury returned to power in July 1886 
he made Lord Iddesleigh Foreign Secretary ; but in the 
disturbance caused by Lord Randolph Churchill's re- 
signation Lord Salisbury changed his mind again, and did 
it somewhat unkindly. Lord Iddesleigh read in the news- 
papers one morning that Lord Salisbury had decided to 
take his place at the Foreign Office. It was no wonder 
that when the news came that the old man, tired, dis- 
appointed, but patient and loyal to the end, had died in a 

204 THE JUBILEE [1887 

chair in Lord Salisbury's ante-room, people who had 
never known him felt grieved. 

His last piece of work at the Foreign Office had been in 
connection with the expedition for the relief of Emin 
Pasha. Mr H. M. Stanley left London towards the end 
of January to reach the Soudan by way of the Congo. 

With the approach of the Queen's Jubilee, the national 
pride in her was reviving the feeling that the British were 
a fine race, and their Empire a noble achievement. Perhaps 
because this form of patriotism had but poor sustenance 
in recent affairs, it grew somewhat self-conscious and ag- 
gressive, and a little inclined to " trail its coat." It made 
much of the Colonial Conference which assembled early 
in April. Imperial Federation was proposed as a subject 
for debate, but beyond a rather empty discussion of the 
types of ship that colonies might keep up in a general 
system of Imperial Defence little was accomplished, except 
that Australia definitely undertook a payment for the 
maintenance of a British squadron on her coasts. Other 
debates of the conference were on the desirability of 
making colonial guaranteed stocks legal trustee invest- 
ments, and on commercial relations, and postal and tele- 
graphic facilities. The last point had already been adopted 
as his own by Mr Henniker Heaton, and his advocacy of 
an Imperial Penny Post was well under way. These were 
the kind of assertive but not immediately pressing affairs 
for which the ordinary man was in the mind. His view 
of the political situation was simple : Gladstone had been 
beaten, Salisbury was in, therefore there would be nothing 
searching or subversive to bother about, and he might, 
politically speaking, take a spell off. He was suddenly 
wrenched from his security in April by a newspaper 

To those more vitally concerned political parties were 
still in no small confusion. When the first flush of 
Goschen's acceptance of the Chancellorship of the Ex- 

1887] THE JUBILEE 205 

chequer had passed off, men asked, What, after all, would 
his position exactly amount to ? They felt that, whatever 
might be the readiness for a coalition among some of the 
dissentient Liberals, there was a strong Conservative feeling 
against it ; Mr Chamberlain had not ceased to be regarded 
as a dangerous Radical . Yet on the other hand it appeared 
with some suddenness that he would never again be a 
Gladstonian ; the Round Table conference which had met 
in December to attempt to patch up the Liberal split had 
not achieved its object. An article from Mr Chamberlain's 
pen, speaking of the Irish people as " disloyal," 1 revealed 
a temper which was so remote from that of the Gladstonians 
that the hopes of a rapprochement were extinguished. Yet, 
again, Mr Chamberlain was believed to entertain still his 
own scheme of concession to Ireland some fair rent pro- 
posals and a system of local governing bodies, without any 
control of the administration of justice or of the police 
and was not likely, therefore, even if his general Radical 
views did not stop the way, to pull in harmony with the 
Government. The Crimes Bill was a serious obstacle to 
coalition; its production was a reply to the Plan of 
Campaign. The Plan was another stage in the dis- 
integration of Parnell's control of Irish agitation. It was 
that tenants in Ireland, carefully organised by estates, 
and acting under committees for each estate, should cease 
entirely to deal with the landlord's agent as individuals ; 
should offer as a body, through the committee, the half- 
yearly rent subject to the reduction they demanded ; and, 
if this were refused, should fund the money, drawing upon 
it for relief when the agent had put in force all the tedious 
and objectionable processes of eviction, sale, and distress. 
Parnell condemned the Plan, which was first published as 
a supplement to United Ireland on 20th November 1886 ; 
it was over that border of obvious illegality which he had 
always refused to cross. But it went forward in spite of 
1 Published in The Baptist, February 1887. 

206 THE JUBILEE [1887 

him ; and he was driven back to fighting in the House 
of Commons against the inevitable coercion measures. 
Practically he was where he had been before 1880, with 
the two currents of Irish agitation again wholly separate, 
and the Irish party handicapped by the odium of 
violences with which it had no connection. Moreover he 
was now often ill, and he moved about the precincts of the 
House carelessly dressed, with lank hair, a wild dark figure, 
his old silence and reserve turned into a new and more 
mystifying habit of disappearing entirely from sight for 
days or even weeks at a time ; no one knew where he was 
at such times, but there were already many who suspected 
in what company he was. Both his own circumstances 
and the political circumstances of the moment must be 
taken into account as we come to the sensational blow 
struck in April of this year. In politics we have the only 
hope of a stable and continuous Government held in 
check by the delay of the coalition, a great cause of 
delay being the reluctance of dissentient Liberals to accept 
the Government's Irish policy ; at the end of March separate 
meetings of Conservatives and Liberal Unionists were being 
held on the Crimes Bill. On the personal side we have 
Parnell still in control of his party, but clearly, by reason 
of the persistence in the Plan of Campaign, less able to 
maintain his old attitude of aloofness from violence ; and 
also, for other reasons, in a position which might be 
reckoned on as making him less ready to resent attack. 
It was a tempting occasion for a stroke which should so 
deeply discredit him as to brush away the last reluctance 
of Liberal Unionists, and also render co-operation with the 
Irish Nationalists a killing handicap to the Liberals. So 
the stroke was dealt. The Times began publishing a series 
of articles entitled " Parnellism and Crime," in which 
extracts from speeches by members of the Parnellite party 
were so conjoined with the story of agrarian crime in 
Ireland as to make the parliamentary agitation and Fenian 

1887] THE JUBILEE 207 

lawlessness one thing. But these articles would not have 
accomplished the object in view. The final attack was the 
publication on 18th April of a facsimile of a letter purport- 
ing to have been written by Parnell soon after the Phoenix 
Park murders. The text left no doubt of the insinuation. 
The letter dated " 15/5/82," a fortnight after the murders 
ran thus : 

" DEAR SIR, I am not surprised at your friend's anger, 
but he and you should know that to denounce the murders 
was the only course open to us. To do that promptly was 
plainly our best policy. But you can tell him, and all 
others concerned, that though I regret the accident of 
Lord F. Cavendish's death, I cannot refuse to admit that 
Burke got no more than his deserts. You are at liberty 
to show him this, and others whom you can trust also, but 
let not my address be known. He can write to the House 
of Commons. Yours very truly, 


No one who at this interval of time opens that famous 
number of the newspaper, and sees the middle of one of 
its central pages occupied by the facsimile, can fail to 
respond to the thrill that its publication caused, especially 
in days when in the normal course nothing interrupted the 
plain typography of newspapers, when there were no photo- 
graphic illustrations or any other efforts of " process " 
reproduction. It was the sight of the handwriting which 
swept away all suspension of judgment. To the world 
at large it was clear enough that at the very time when 
he had been denouncing and repudiating completely the 
Phoenix Park murders, Parnell had been writing to a 
Fenian leader to say that these repudiations were merely 
diplomatic that he only regretted Lord F. Cavendish's 
death as an accident, and had less than no regret for the 
death of Mr Burke. 

208 THE JUBILEE [1887 

The publication of the facsimile was carefully timed. 
The day of its appearance was the day of the second reading 
division on the Government's Coercion Bill. No one 
could say that Parnell lacked occasion for an immediate 
denial, and members of Parliament, who had brought to the 
Lobby that excitement which had run like wildfire over 
the country during the day, clustered silent in the House 
when Parnell rose immediately before the division. He 
gave the most downright denial to the authenticity of the 
letter ; he was as calm as ever, and he put his denial 
in the plainest, simplest terms. But even in this assembly 
the power of the reproduced handwriting was strong, and 
the high standing of the newspaper concerned was a con- 
siderable element in the estimation of the worth of the 
denial. The Conservatives openly derided it ; the Liberal 
Unionists, if less jubilant, felt it so inadequate that they 
could act as if the letter were genuine. They had been 
assisted over their scruples, and the Coercion Bill got its 
second reading. It was a measure severe even in the 
history of coercion ; for its operation had no time-limit. 
It gave the usual powers to the executive to proclaim dis- 
turbed districts and dangerous associations, to order in- 
quiries upon oath even when no one was actually on trial, 
and to suspend trial by jury for a list of offences that 
practically covered all the operations of the Plan of 
Campaign. Yet once again the old rule held good, that 
with a Coercion Bill a Land Bill should pass. So great 
had been the hurry for coercion that the Government did 
not appear to mind what variations of purpose it went 
through on the land question. In 1885 it had refused all 
reconsideration of judicial rents ; in 1886 the Cowper 
Commission and the Government's own envoy, Sir Redvers 
Buller, alike reported that the demand for a reduction of 
rents was an honest demand, and that the Irish tenants, as 
a whole, genuinely could not pay the old rents. Still the 
Government held to its refusal, evictions went forward (the 

1887] THE JUBILEE 209 

famous Woodford evictions on the Clanricarde estate took 
place in the winter of 1886-1887) ; and then in July 1887 
Lord Salisbury calmly accepted the evidence he had been 
steadily refusing, and established new judicial rents under 
a land court. These two Bills, it may be remarked in 
passing, were Mr Balfour's introduction as a member of 
Government to the House of Commons. He had succeeded 
Sir Michael Hicks Beach as Chief Secretary at the be- 
ginning of March. 

The Coercion Bill is memorable as having led to one of 
the most drastic alterations of procedure in the House of 
Commons. It was the first Bill to which " guillotine " 
closure was applied. Curiously enough, the Bill had not 
been subjected to the purely obstructive tactics of the Irish 
party. But on 10th June the Government carried a 
resolution that a week later the committee stage of the 
Bill should end, and clauses still undiscussed should be 
put forthwith without debate. This was a violent answer 
to the growing bewilderment, which was expressed at 
the opening of this session (and at the opening of every 
session for the past six or seven years), as to how the House 
of Commons was to get through its work. Before the 
guillotine closure was adopted the House had already made 
the existing closure resolutions more readily applicable. 
The stipulation in the resolution of 1882 for a majority of a 
certain size was abolished, and closure of debate by a bare 
majority was authorised, provided the chairman accepted 
a motion to that effect and not less than two hundred 
members supported it. Parliament made very little pro- 
gress this year with anything but its Irish legislation. The 
Government accepted from a private member a Truck 
Bill dealing with certain methods of paying workmen in 
kind, which had escaped earlier Acts ; it was still, for 
instance, the custom in some districts to pay agricultural 
labourers partly in supplies of cider. The passing of the 
First Offenders Bill, introduced by Sir Howard Vincent, not 

210 THE JUBILEE [1887 

for the first time, was a good piece of work rather hastily 
done ; gloomy critics predicted that it would lead to such 
espionage as this country had never tolerated. A Technical 
Education Bill was introduced, givingpower to local author- 
ities to set up technical schools and to combine for this 
purpose with other localities in order to save overlapping 
and spread the cost ; but the Bill was dropped to make 
way for other legislation. An Allotments Bill was more 
fortunate, and became law ; the authority to administer 
it was the Local Sanitary Authority, appealing to Quarter 
Sessions, but there was a strong disposition to eliminate 
the latter and set up the Local Government Board as the 
supreme authority. This disposition (and indeed the 
production of the Bill itself) indicated that the legislation 
on County Government, long promised by the Liberal 
Ministry of 1880 but always postponed by the various 
complications of that Ministry's career, was going to be 
taken up by their opponents. One of the reasons given 
by Mr W. H. Smith (who had succeeded Lord Randolph 
Churchill as Leader of the Commons) for the abandonment 
of certain Bills in August was the necessity for passing a 
Local Boundaries Bill to clear the way for a Local Govern- 
ment Bill in the following year. 

Nothing shows better the suspension of public interest 
in politics than the curious history of the Government's 
Irish legislation of this year. A Coercion Bill for the first 
time permanently at the disposal of the Executive, a Land 
Bill which was a bland " doubling " on all Lord Salisbury 
had said the year before, and incidentally a drastic inno- 
vation in the procedure of the House all accomplished 
without any disturbance. Mr Gladstone could not have 
attempted one quarter of such changes without rousing the 
country. Partly this was due to his great personal position. 
What he did stood in the popular mind for the fiery, the 
exalted, the breath of the future. His defeat had been 
enough to make men settle down in their normal ways 

1887] THE JUBILEE 211 

again ; and the men who defeated him were free to do 
almost anything without risk of disturbance. Partly too 
the supposed Parnell letter in The Times had had on the 
normal Englishman the effect it was intended to have on 
the Liberal Unionists. Parnell had always despised English 
public opinion, and, as we have seen, part of the secret of 
his power in Ireland was his avoiding any friendliness from 
England. His curt denial of the authenticity of the letter 
therefore was taken to be his usual contemptuous way of 
treating this country, the result being that in the general 
sense no one felt himself called upon to have any conscience 
about the Irish party or the Irish. The public after a 
week or two dropped the letter as it had dropped all 
politics, and gave itself to a summer of heightened gaiety, 
a holiday summer. 

Everything was done even to the appropriation of a 
Parisian popular tune for street and barrel-organ use to 
make people think of the Jubilee and nothing else. Shops 
placarded it, villages feasted it, errand-boys whistled it. 
Last of all the weather rose to it. On 20th June the Queen 
proceeded to a great thanksgiving service in Westminster 
Abbey, where her venerable figure was enthroned upon a 
dais on the very spot on which fifty years before she had 
received the homage of her realm. Her procession to the 
Abbey was such as had never in the world's history accom- 
panied a crowned head. Three kings were in it the King 
of Denmark, the King of the Belgians, and the King of 
the Hellenes and the Crown Princes of every throne 
in Christendom, and of some outside Christendom. Three 
sons, five sons-in-law, and nine grandsons and grandsons- 
in-law rode behind her carriage ; midmost in the line of 
sons-in-law rode the tall Crown Prince of the German 
Empire, his silver helmet, his long fair beard, and his white 
tunic making him the princeliest figure of the whole. The 
day was a universal holiday, and there was not a town 
or village which had not the means of making festival, and 

212 THE JUBILEE [1887 

of giving it lasting commemoration in some monument, 
however modest. At nightfall bonfires were lit on all high 
hills. A new coinage was struck, chiefly remarkable, after 
the first novelty had passed away, for the fact that the 
sixpence was identical in design with the half-sovereign, 
so that a little gilding was sufficient for the perpetration 
of frauds. 1 

The Jubilee was an occasion which prompted retro- 
spects, and every newspaper and review fell to taking 
stock of England's progress during fifty years. Develop- 
ments of machinery and means of communication belong 
in the main to a period earlier than that of this history. 
They provided ground for almost unmitigated satisfaction. 
Yet the social condition of the country gave some pause ; 
it hardly seemed to express the results of a general advance, 
except in the broadest kind of material well-being. Even 
in that respect, though the country as a whole was vastly 
richer, there seemed to be forms of poverty more acute than 
the old days had known ; and there were still horrible 
slums, horrible corners in country villages, hovels on the 
thresholds of mansions. Wealth had indeed been more 
widely distributed; but the distribution had run in channels. 
The growth of industrialism had, since the passing of the 
Limited Liability Acts, begun to carry the profits of in- 
dustry out into the professional middle classes, as a return 
for the investment of savings. Professor Leone Levi, one 
of the greatest political economists of the day, writing soon 
after the publication of the Report of the Royal Commis- 
sion on Trade, to contest the view that the fall in prices was 
due to the shortage of gold, pointed out that the fall might 
easily be an apparent one, due to the fact that the increase 
of Limited Liability Companies diminished apparent 
profits, spreading them more widely ; private shareholders 
looked for less return on their money than the manufactur- 
ing capitalists. Again, that same growth, by calling for 
1 These sixpenny pieces were called in. 

1887] THE JUBILEE 213 

a corresponding expansion of means of distribution, had 
profoundly affected the middleman class ; and here also 
the Limited Liability Acts came into the field. Large 
" Stores " were in existence ; and the shareholders in 
them were a kind of sleeping middlemen. This feature 
of English commercial life was already important enough 
to have attracted the notice of the taxation experts of the 
country. 1 Industrialism had not adjusted itself to the new 
weights it had to carry ; and its periods of production were 
being governed rather by the call for dividends than by 
considerations of steady trade. It could not fail to be 
remarked at the same time that, as the spread of wealth 
had increased, the standard of living had gone up. In 
education, in material comforts, in amusements, the upper 
middle class were now approximating to the habits of 
Society ; and the lower middle class, the smaller profes- 
sional men and the shopkeepers, were coming into the 
position of the upper middle class. The consciousness 
of this, working in the artisan and the labourer, who 
had not yet shared as much in the growing wealth as in 
the spreading intelligence of the community, was no 
small element in the new uprising of labour, the new 
demands for something more than mere advancement of 

It is interesting to find in this very year of the Jubilee 
signs of another change, incalculable in effect. Compulsory 
education and the abolition of the stamp duty on news- 
papers had begun to make England a newspaper-reading 
nation. This had been seen in one respect in the influence 
which a newspaper agitation had had in the sending of 
Gordon to the Soudan. 2 In 1887 it disturbed the minds of 
the respectable by its obvious fruitfulness in new forms of 
gambling. In January one cheap print had set on foot the 

1 Elliot's Life of Lord Goschen, ii. 158. 

8 See page 124 ; and Mr G. W. E. Russell's One Look Back, 
p. 246, 

214 THE JUBILEE [1887 

form of competition which has ever since been readily 
worked into a craze ; it offered prizes for discovering 
certain easy words in a series of pictures, the prizes to go 
to the first correct solution which happened to be opened. 
Other kinds of gambling due to the spread of newspapers 
appeared in the autumn. There was a riot at Lillie 
Bridge on 19th September, where a crowd of five or six 
thousand had gathered to see a race ; the race did not take 
place, and the crowd wrecked the stands and railings of the 
ground, and burned the fragments. It was pretty well 
known that the stoppage of the race was really brought 
about to suit some betting-books l ; and the riot drew 
attention, first, to the immense crowds which were 
attracted to sporting events, and, secondly, to the cheap 
newspapers which sent them there. The riot was followed 
by a police raid on a gambling club in London ; and these 
were the first steps in a somewhat ineffectual attack during 
the late eighties and early nineties upon the betting 
tendencies of the workman. Another effect of cheap 
newspapers on ideas of sport was observed about this 
time. A famous old cricketer, signing himself " F. G.," 
wrote to The Times 2 to complain of a new school 
of cricket reporting which classified counties into first 
and second class counties, and talked of " championships " 
and " premierships " ; the cricket enthusiast, he thought, 
was becoming a mere statistician, with " records " at his 
fingers' ends. The football mania had not yet begun ; but 
the same spirit was evidently at work to create it. 

The Jubilee, not overshadowed by parliamentary battles, 
was equally free of social shadows. The palpable exist- 
ence of unemployment was rendered less pressing by the 
warmth of the summer weather; yet in various minor 
ways a certain financial pinch left its marks. Thus 
the trade in meat was slack, and the importers of the 

1 The Times, 24th September 1887. 
8 5th September 1887. 

1887] THE JUBILEE 215 

chilled supply found it a depressing year ; however it may 
be mentioned that even a depressed market now took 
76,000 cwt. a month, which gives some measure of the 
growth of this industry in seven years. While we are on 
the subject of food, it may be mentioned that 1887 saw at 
last the passing of the Margarine Act, by which the word 
" margarine " had to be stamped on all packets containing 
that substance ; the makers and purveyors had fought hard 
to alter the legal description to " butterine." If the meat 
market was not as good as a festival year seemed to imply, 
there were other means of jollity ; and when the Chancellor 
of the Exchequer introduced his next Budget he commented 
gratefully on the large increase in the product of the beer 
and spirit duties, which the Jubilee festivities had put into 
his pocket. Tobacco duties also were becoming more 
productive, and for this there was an interesting reason. 
Anyone who turns over the newspapers for 1887 will be 
struck by an outbreak of advertisements of cigarettes. 
Of course cigarettes had been smoked in England for some 
time previously, but they were still looked upon as rather 
outlandish. Mr Labouchere's incessant smoking of them 
was enough to mark him out, and the aesthetes affected 
them as a piece of elegance. It was not until about 1887 
that their use became common ; and the change had been 
caused by the Soudan expedition. Officers and men alike 
had learned to enjoy cigarettes in Egypt, and as they 
brought their new habit home it spread among people, 
both high and low, who would never have picked it up 
from the aesthete or the dandy. 

An event of the summer which was almost as popular 
as the Jubilee was the " Wild West " Show at Brompton. 
Colonel Cody, with his romantic past of fighting Indians 
and his troupe of picturesque cowboys, became the rage. 
Even the most grown-up persons recalled their boyhood 
and went to see the show. Meanwhile a sign of some 
uneasiness about the standing amusements of London was 

216 THE JUBILEE [1887 

seen in the strong opposition to the application made 
this year by the Empire Theatre for a music-hall licence in 
place of its previous theatre licence ; the application was 
granted, but not without a great deal of public criticism 
of the condition of music-hall entertainments. 

Parliament had an unusually long session, and had not 
risen when, in September, a sudden violent occurrence took 
place in Ireland. But again the withdrawal of public 
interest showed itself in the comparative coolness and ease 
with which the Government were able to take the affair. 
A meeting at Mitchelstown, co. Cork, at which Mr Dillon 
was speaking, was turned into a riot by the determination 
of the police to force their official note-taker through the 
midst of the crowd. In the end three men were killed 
by rifle fire from the police barracks. Yet so little was 
the British public inclined to care for such things at the 
moment that Mr Balfour was able to answer indignant 
questions in the House by merely giving the police version 
of the affair ; and even Mr Gladstone's cry, " Remember 
Mitchelstown," roused no one who would not have been 
ready to be roused by less tragic events. 

Mr Balfour was able to carry out through the executive 
in Dublin the severest kind of repression. Some two 
hundred branches of the National League were suppressed ; 
the Lord Mayor of Dublin was prosecuted for publishing 
in a newspaper, owned by him, reports of League meetings ; 
Mr William O'Brien was sent to gaol as a common criminal 
for speaking at proclaimed meetings ; Mr Wilfrid Blunt 
was similarly treated for trying to address a gathering 
on the Clanricarde estate. Mr O'Brien's refusal to wear 
prison dress drew some flippant attention, for his own 
clothes had been taken away, and his demand for their 
restoration was echoed in British jests about " O'Brien's 
trousers." Mr Blunt 's arrest also caused a slight stir, be- 
cause, being an English squire, he was appalled into strong 
language by the discovery that a policeman could positively 

1887] THE JUBILEE 217 

prevent him from making a speech. But otherwise no 
one in England paid much heed to Mr Balfour's rule ; 
even though the Irish problem took one of its curious 
twists when in August there came loud complaints from 
Ulster because the large London Livery Companies, taking 
advantage of the Land Purchase Act, were clearing out of 
their Irish estates, and leaving to their fate all religious 
and charitable institutions to which, as landlords, they 
had hitherto subscribed. Private landlords were not 
clearing out in quite this conscienceless way ; and in- 
dignant Ulstermen were inclined to question whether under 
the terms of the Plantation it was legal for the Livery 
Companies to act as they were acting. In any case Mr 
Balfour's policy did not interfere with the progress of the 
Conservatives and the Liberal Unionists towards coalition. 
One prominent Unionist, Sir George Trevelyan, had 
returned to the Gladstonians in May, when he knew that 
Mr Gladstone was not of fixed mind on the question of re- 
taining Irish members at Westminster. Lord Hartington, 
on the other hand, was speaking more strongly than ever 
against all the proposed or hinted forms of self-government 
for Ireland, and against the Parnellite party. A flicker of 
the spirit of the previous year arose upon a speech by Sir 
George Trevelyan in July, which caused Liberal Unionists 
to ask him by what right he " took upon himself to 
excommunicate Bright, Hartington and Chamberlain." 
But the plain man's view of the situation was the true one : 
the coalition would take place by a process of driftings, 
and letters were even being written to the papers to prove 
that before common opposition to Home Rule united the 
two groups they had had a bond of union in a common 
policy, Mr Chamberlain and Lord Randolph Churchill being 
almost as near together in democratic schemes as, say, 
Mr Goschen and Sir Michael Hicks Beach were in distrust 
of such schemes. Before the end of the year the Liberal 
Unionists held a great meeting which virtually amounted 

218 THE JUBILEE [1887 

to adherence to the Conservative side ; and when Mr 
Chamberlain left England in December for New York, to 
act as British Commissioner in the Canadian Fisheries 
dispute, he was not only taking a post offered by Lord 
Salisbury, but was also arranging a convenient absence, 
on the further side of which he might with less emphasis 
take the final step of severance from his old party. It is 
curious, considering how events developed sixteen years 
later, that at this time one of the reasons given by the Tory 
newspapers for welcoming Mr Chamberlain was that he 
and his Liberal Unionist allies might be expected to 
counteract a tendency towards Protection in the Conserva- 
tive party. The Fair Trade cry had been, after all, less 
damaged by its defeats at the polls than many people 
thought, and it was vigorous towards the end of the year. 
The papers which deplored it as a reactionary movement 
looked to the democratic ideas of Mr Chamberlain as a 
useful influence against it. 

Nothing that modern retrospect can add would make 
the Home Rule split more serious, more damaging, than 
it was at the time. Yet we can perceive now concurrent 
effects of it unperceived at the time. Events had so 
fallen that both Lord Randolph Churchill and Mr 
Chamberlain were out of office, and out of influence, at 
a time when a politician in any sort of touch with the 
working poor might have diverted the whole course of 
social history. As it was, the world at large continued to 
satisfy itself by mentally separating the socialist speaker 
from the mass of working people. The latter, politicians 
thought they understood. When in May a deputation 
of pit-brow women waited upon the Home Secretary to 
protest against the attempt which was being made to put 
a stop to the work of women at colliery pit-mouths, he 
expressed his readiness to accede to their views, and re- 
joiced in the opportunity of showing that a Conservative 
Government was open to the reasoned requests of labour. 

1887] THE JUBILEE 219 

When the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union 
Congress decided in June against taking part in an Inter- 
national Conference of Labour they were commended for 
maintaining the independence of the British artisan, and 
keeping him clear of associations with foreign workmen who 
founded their programme upon more State intervention 
than men in this country demanded. 1 Nor was there any 
misgiving about the conference in the autumn on the 
conditions of working women, when a strong committee, 
on which Miss Maude Stanley, Mrs Barnett, Mrs Hickford, 
Mrs Allison, Mrs Verney, Canon Barnett, Lord Meath, 
Mr G. R. Sims and Professor Stuart served, met to con- 
sider the relation of women's work to social life, and more 
specifically the hours, wages and conditions of women's 
work. This conference, again, was largely due to a novel 
of Walter Besant's, Children of Gibeon, which had depicted 
the circumstances of sweated women in the East End; 
Besant served as honorary treasurer of the committee. 
All these movements were supposed to be separable from 
London street meetings, which again began to be trouble- 
some in October. In one sense they were separable ; 
even William Morris himself was thinking at this time 
that the free speech campaign was beginning to take on 
an importance of its own, apart from the subject of the 
speaking. He thought he discerned in the leaders of the 
campaign a desire to figure as heroes. 2 But in the deeper 
sense there was no line of division. What was happening 
was the birth of a new school of labour aspiration, which 
was not satisfied to see all political economy brushed aside, 
because the individualist form of it had been dethroned. 
The tendency of even thoughtful men in other classes 
just now was to replace political science by a humani- 
tarian spirit in administration ; and the knowledge that 
such a spirit was abroad made men the more ready to be 

1 The Times, i5th June 1887. 

1 Mackail's Life of William Morris, ii. 179.- 

220 THE JUBILEE [1887 

impatient with the London street meetings. As these 
meetings had become a battle-ground the socialist leaders 
were disposed to keep them going ; they could not be 
blamed for seeing the opportunity. Having tried to hold 
one in Trafalgar Square, and caused the authorities to take 
action on the somewhat absurd legal point that the Square 
was Crown territory, and could therefore be arbitrarily 
closed, the socialists called a large meeting in Hyde 
Park on 20th October, and thence led a mass of men as a 
deputation to the Home Office ; the police devoted them- 
selves to riding constantly through and through the march- 
ing men, and breaking up the ranks. Two or three days 
later, on a Sunday, there was a march of the unemployed 
to Westminster Abbey. Some months earlier they had 
similarly attended service in St Paul's ; on both occasions 
the men sat for the most part quite quietly amid the 
nervous congregation, though one or two shouted remarks 
during the sermon. The closing of Trafalgar Square 
was rescinded, and a meeting was held there on 24th 
October, after which men paraded the West End 
streets, but nothing occurred beyond the excusable panic 
of the shopkeepers. Hyndman had issued a programme 
of demands, including an eight hours' day in all Govern- 
ment workshops, the opening to cultivation of all waste 
lands in Crown or Government possession, and the 
establishment of relief works at State or local charges. 
For the moment the reopening of Trafalgar Square ap- 
peared to have had its effect in causing the demonstrations 
there to dwindle by the removal of a grievance. But some 
arrests in the Square early in November for using threaten- 
ing language led to a fresh prohibition of meetings there, 
and the result was the fight of " Bloody Sunday," 13th 
November. The unemployed and their leaders made a 
determined attack on the Square, which was held by a 
strong barrier of police. Police vedettes met the oncoming 
processions from every direction, and had broken them 

1887] THE JUBILEE 221 

up before they reached the main cordon. The chief 
fight took place at the corner of the Strand. " No one 
who saw it will ever forget the strange and indeed 
terrible sight of that grey winter day, the vast, sombre- 
coloured crowd, the brief but fierce struggle at the corner 
of the Strand, and the river of steel and scarlet that moved 
slowly through the dusky swaying masses, when two 
squadrons of the Life Guards were summoned up from 
Whitehall . " x Before the columns of the unemployed were 
finally headed off, the upper side of the Square was lined 
by a battalion of Foot Guards with bayonets fixed and 
ball cartridge in their pouches. After the affray two of 
the stoutest fighters remained in custody Cunninghame 
Graham, then a Member of Parliament, and John 
Burns. For weeks the alarm caused by this wild scene 
lasted ; special constables were enrolled as for a revolu- 
tion, and Trafalgar Square was held daily by pickets 
of police. There was no further attack ; but there 
was one other socialist manifestation. In December 
a man named Alfred Linnell, who had been injured 
in the fight, died. His funeral on 18th December 
was attended by a huge but perfectly orderly crowd, and 
William Morris and Henry Quelch, of the Social Democratic 
Federation, spoke at the graveside. Cunninghame Graham, 
John Burns, the Rev. Stewart Headlam, and Mrs Annie 
Besant were in the procession. No one knew what effect 
a man's death might have on the agitation ; it made 
an anxious close to the year. Moreover in the Western 
Isles of Scotland the crofters were raiding the deer forests, 
declaring they were starving, and the tithe riots in Wales 
had not ceased. 

In December the British public learned for the first 

time where the real wealth of gold in the Transvaal lay. A 

Board of Trade report on the Witwatersrand district was 

published on 15th December. The Rand had been pro- 

1 Mackail's Life of William Morris, ii. 191. 

222 THE JUBILEE [1887 

claimed a goldfield in March, but for all effective purposes 
the secret had been kept until the industry was under way ; 
and by this time eighty or ninety companies had been 
registered in connection with the Rand, and 1400 
stamps were already working. The discovery of the 
gold there was attributed to a Mr Struben, an English- 
man long resident in Johannesburg. 1 Smaller fields still 
continued to be opened up, as at Luipaard's Vlei ; and 
altogether the export of gold from South Africa was 
expected to approach 200,000 in this year ; in 1885 it 
had been 69,543. A hint of the monopolising of wealth 
by a large ring at work in South Africa was given by 
the announcement in August 1887 that the De Beers 
Company were buying out the French Diamond Mining 
Company at Kimberley. A mining subject of a somewhat 
different kind had caused scandal in political quarters in 
the summer. The recent annexation of Burma had 
brought under British control the rich ruby mines which 
had belonged to King Theebaw. It became known that 
a lease to work these mines was being granted, and there 
were circumstances connected with the grant which caused 
Lord Cross, the Secretary for India, to cut short the pend- 
ing negotiations, and reserve the subject for inquiry. 

Late in the year the final stage of an undertaking, which 
has made several appearances in these pages, was in- 
augurated. The first sod of the Manchester Ship Canal was 
cut on llth November at Eastham Ferry by Lord Egerton 
of Tatton. Shares to the value of five millions had been 
issued in the summer, three millions having been taken up 
in Lancashire before the prospectus was published for the 
second time, 2 and Barings and Rothschilds had under- 
written a considerable amount. The raising of the three 
millions was a fine piece of local patriotism. 

1 It has also been attributed to Sir J. B. Robinson. 
See p. 1 86. 



IN the year 1888 it seemed that the many currents 
of restlessness the restlessness not only of working 
people and the people on the " starvation line," but 
of educated and thoughtful people also in regard to the 
responsibilities of citizenship were producing a genuine 
effect. The body politic of England stirred uneasily, and 
could not quite go to sleep again. There was no cause 
for anxieties abroad. For the moment our relations 
with France were patched up ; in October 1887 the 
Government had announced simultaneously the con- 
clusion of an agreement neutralising the Suez Canal in time 
of war, and the withdrawal of all French claims on the 
New Hebrides. 1 Germany lay under a double oppression : 
her famous old Emperor William, first wearer of the crown 
of a united Germany, was at the end of his long life (he 
died on 9th March) ; and his heir, the Crown Prince who 
had taken all London's eyes in the Jubilee procession, was 
a stricken man. He only reigned three months, dying on 
15th June, of cancer in the throat. 

So England practically spent the year with its own 
conscience. In January the horrors of sweated labour 
were for the first time systematically revealed by a 
Board of Trade report, coinciding with the work of 
the private committee investigating the conditions of 
women's industry. The subject was approached without 

1 See page 103. The subject of the New Hebrides had provided 
the liveliest passages of discussion at the Colonial Conference. 
See The Times, 2;th July 1887. 


any sentimental excess. Sweating was diagnosed as an 
evil largely due to the extreme subdivision of labour in 
certain trades ; for instance, a single subdivision of the 
tailor's trade, coatmaking, was further subdivided into 
the work of cutters, basters, machinists, pressers, fellers, 
buttonhole makers, and general workers. It was urged on 
behalf of the various sub-contractors in trades so divided 
that they worked as hard as any of the grades below them, 
and that care should be taken to distinguish between a 
system itself and excesses in a system. When Lord 
Dunraven a month later raised the question in the House 
of Lords, and obtained the appointment of a Select Com- 
mittee, the same careful spirit was at work ; the mere 
system of manufacture of cheap clothing (which was the 
trade mostly impugned) was, after all, it was said, the 
same as the system in other industrial work ; cheap pens 
and cheap cotton goods were equally made possible by 
subdivision of labour ; and with an export trade of four 
millions a year in clothing it behoved reformers to be 
cautious. An increase of inspectors might be desirable. 
But was it not a matter in which a general improvement 
of tone in the community would be the only valid method 
of reform ? So sharply was public attention roused that 
the Salvation Army was attacked for producing, by its 
charitable system of providing work for those in need 
of food and shelter, an undercutting of the market in 
laundry -work and match-making ; the accusation was 
strenuously denied. The subject ran off into all sorts 
of side-issues. Was the middleman to be blamed ? 
But the middleman must be a necessary and not un- 
economic link in the social fabric. Was alien immigration 
a chief source of sweating ? But, if that were stopped, 
would the underpaid work be refused by English people ? 
Was not the fault as much with the purchaser as with any- 
body else ? No direct legislation against sweating would 
avail, if the purchaser insisted on extreme cheapness. The 


private committee on women's work formed itself into 
a larger and more immediately philanthropic body, called 
the Women's Protective and Provident League, which was 
active in collecting evidence for the Select Committee. 
A more important step was taken in July, when the 
match-making girls of a large factory in the East End 
were encouraged to strike by the outcry against sweating ; 
Miss Clementina Black at once devoted herself to forming 
a Match-makers' Union ; the girls won their fight them- 
selves, and wrote a new chapter in the history of women's 
labour. It was altogether no wonder that in the autumn 
Lord Sydney Godolphin Osborne should express rather 
sombre gratification in the reflection that at last some 
knowledge of the awful conditions of the East End and of 
provincial slums was penetrating an England which with 
these horrors at its doors went on subscribing half-a-million 
a year for foreign missions, spent its money lavishly on the 
buildingof a Church House, 1 and its time on a Pan-Anglican 
conference of bishops from all over the world. 

The sarcastic implication of this reflection, as well as its 
main purport, was thoroughly in the spirit of the year. 
In religious matters too the nation was singularly stirred. 
A focussing point for much new thought, some of it very 
yeasty, was provided by the publication early in April of 
a novel, Robert Elsmere, by Mrs Humphry Ward. Refer- 
ence has been made to that conflict between divines and 
men of science, which arose out of enthusiastic accept- 
ance of the evolutionary theory, and was sharply revived 
in the eighties by the death of Charles Darwin and the 
consequent recapitulation of his achievements. As it 
happened, the controversy found the Church of England 
in a phase of slight, perhaps too slight, attention to purely 
doctrinal and historical work. That had become associated 
chiefly with the Tractarians ; and in the reaction against 

1 The Church House at Westminster was begun in 1887, after a 
great deal of discussion. 


High Church methods and practices, which centred in 
F. D. Maurice and Charles Kingsley, there had been a 
tendency to feel that ecclesiastical learning was not alto- 
gether a healthy pursuit. To show to the world that 
passion for the poor and afflicted, devotion to parish work, 
and zealous care of souls were not necessarily bound up 
with a sacramental interpretation of priesthood and an 
ascetic life tending to monasticism, was the object of the 
^Maurice group ; and as the priestliness and asceticism were 
founded on the historical teachings of the Tractarians, the 
group had a tendency to avoid learning which was, so to 
speak, technical Church learning. The muscular curate 
was the prevailing type of young clergyman. When the 
attack came, when new scientific schools of thought, new 
theories of the origin of life, assailed the whole Christian 
cosmogony, and thereby raised the searching problem of 
Christian evidences, men of religious faith retired into 
more than one camp. The High Church, secure in its 
. own mysticism, held no parley at all from its citadel. 
Churchmen of the Maurice and Kingsley type became the 
Broad Church, and started throwing up earthworks to 
enclose a portion of the debatable ground, from whence 
they might answer the shots aimed at them ; in other 
words, they rationalised certain regions of evidence, especi- 
ally in the Old Testament. Meanwhile a strong intellectual 
2.. movement among lay churchmen rationalised the whole 
-" body of Christianity, and these people, ceasing thereby in 
mere honesty to call themselves churchmen, yet called 
themselves Christians. The Evangelicals, with a section of 
t/ Nonconformity (one portion of which was in the broadest 
Church position), rejecting the extreme ground of the 
mystics, battled faithfully with the exponents of the higher 
criticism, and gave not the least convincing proof of the 
reality of their religious feeling in the firmness with which 
they refused to yield an inch of ground. A controversy of 
some fame took place just at this time ; Dr Henry Wace, 


Principal of King's College, London, engaged in an argu- ^y CL 
mentative duel with Professor Huxley in the pages of 
The Nineteenth Century, and this type of discussion never 
received a better summing-up than on this occasion. The 
question of the origin of life seriously disturbed dinner- 
parties, and protoplasm was a word that could destroy 
the friendships of years. If the theologians' position 
showed some obstinacy, the scientists on their side laid 
themselves open to the biting comment that " nothing 
is infallible now, except science." Floating somewhat 
vaguely in the welter was the recent school of taste in 
art and life. ^Estheticism in its worst aspect offered a 
cynical kind of support to the Ritualists ; in its best 
it held a large part of the intellectual world aloof from 
destructive criticism and from an exaggerated emphasis 
on the exercise of the intellect. 

Matthew Arnold, who had, if often indirectly, borne so > . 
large a part in this drastic reconsideration of belief, hardly 
lived to see it become (though the phrase is rather inappro- 
priate) a popular affair. He died on 16th April, just after 
Mrs Ward, whose uncle he was, had published her novel. 
Mr Gladstone found himself at leisure to take up the 
ecclesiastical discussions which always interested him even 
more than politics ; and an article by him on this novel x set 
all the country talking. It is ancient history now ; the 
modern world would not be stirred by the spectacle of a 
parish priest, who has resigned his living owing to an 
inability to believe in miracles, founding in the East End 
a sect based on an indeterminate mixture of Positivism, 
social enthusiasm, and sacramental phrases without the 
Sacraments. But the appearance of the book remains a 
monument of that searching of the social conscience which 
had so strikingly come to light every now and then in the 
early eighties, and in 1888 was the predominant influence. 

Housing reform was at work. Large private benefactions 
1 In The Nineteenth Century, 1888. 


were being projected to supplement the work of public 
bodies, and at least one great ground landlord, whose 
leases were falling in, was setting aside, in his plans for 
rebuilding, sites for workmen's dwellings. 1 Educational 
reform was advanced a stage in this year by the Report 
of the Royal Commission on the Education Acts. It had 
nothing to say about making education entirely free, 
though Mr Chamberlain in his new surroundings main- 
tained that ideal more frankly than any other part of his 
former Radical programme. The commission was indeed 
Conservative in essence, a majority of fifteen supporting 
the voluntary school system and recommending a develop- 
ment of religious education, from which a minority of 
five, including Sir John Lubbock, Mr Lyulph Stanley and 
Dr Dale dissented. But on more general topics some 
useful recommendations were made, as, for instance, that 
teachers' salaries should be fixed, instead of being dependent 
on the grant ; and that, while the system of payment by 
results in the Government grant could not be entirely 
abolished, it might be subject to much relaxation. An im- 
provement of the training colleges was also recommended. 
A movement was on foot earlier in the year to ease the 
conditions under which elementary schools might enter 
on technical education. It was beginning to be felt that it 
would be difficult to lay down the line at which elementary 
education ends and technical instruction should begin, so 
that the sounder policy might be a wide and deep improve- 
ment of elementary education. The Associated Chambers 
of Commerce, on the other hand, preferred that the two 
forms of teaching should be kept separate. The subject in 
general had a year of helpful ventilation and discussion. 

Events had so fallen out that the chief parliamentary 

work of 1888 was also in the spirit of the year. The Local 

Government Bill gave the representative principle a new 

sphere hitherto occupied by non-elective authorities. 

1 Lord Cadogan, on his Chelsea estates. 


Not only had " the era of administration " come, but the/ 
power of administration was placed within reach of all. 
Until this time the authority in the counties had been the 
justices in Quarter Sessions ; it was now to be a body 
similar to the great popular municipalities, elected on 
the same household suffrage, with some modifications, 
such as the removal of the disqualification of clergymen 
and ministers. But more important still from the 
democratic point of view was the amount of delegation 
of work which the Bill was framed to permit. Practic- 
ally all county work might be delegated to committees, 
with the provision that they must report to the council, 
and that the council had the sole power of expenditure. 
Two committees were compulsory under the Bill the 
Finance Committee (which was not only a watching 
committee, as in the existing municipalities, but an 
estimating committee, without whose sanction no sum over 
fifty pounds could be expended) ; and a Standing Joint 
Committee, formed of councillors and justices, for police 
purposes. But any number of other committees might be 
formed, and in order to save wasteful expenditure from 
overlapping in such matters as drainage, roads, etc., a 
council might unite with other councils in setting up joint 
committees with delegated powers. The result of all the 
delegation was that the council as a whole need not meet 
often (four meetings a year was the statutory minimum), 
and thus membership was open to men who had not much 
time to spare from their work, and at the same time county 
business was not hampered with incessant debating. A 
general county rate was authorised by the Bill. The 
Bill did not apply to Ireland ; but Liberal Unionists 
congratulated themselves on having an instrument the 
possible extension of which might undermine the. Home 
Rule movement. Conservatives indeed regarded the 
measure as savouring far too strongly of Liberal Unionism, 
and the Government had to face much resentment among 


their supporters in the country. Tory critics pointed out 
that administration by Quarter Sessions had been econ- 
omical, fairly efficient, and, above all, free from jobbery. 
Other critics, while more friendly to the principle, objected 
that much more ought to have been done to unify rating, 
that interference with the old control of the police might 
endanger the efficiency of the service, that triennial elec- 
tions were not frequent enough to keep up local interest, 
and so on. Liberals regretted the exclusion of Poor Law 
administration from the work of the new councils ; but 
the creation of a County of London, with the consequent 
abolition of the Metropolitan Board of Works, was no 
small consolation to them. All was going well with the 
Bill, when suddenly a controversy sprang up on the 
/ clauses detailing the licensing powers of the new authority. 
The councils were to be allowed to refuse the renewal of 
licences to public-houses, on payment of compensation 
to the licence-holder. Temperance reformers detected 
danger in the implication contained in this clause, that an 
interest in a licence was a valuable interest ; they main- 
tained hotly that a licence was an annual grant, and that 
the licensing authority had a right in any year to refuse 
renewal. Less extreme men were puzzled by the absence 
of any basis for computation of the value of a licence. 
Brewers and licence -holders for their part disliked any 
change which would place them under new and popularly 
elected bodies. So great an outcry arose from all these 
conflicting interests that the Government decided to 
withdraw the licensing clauses altogether. The Bill 
then made a prosperous passage, and was law before the 
House rose in August. 

The licensed victualling trade was at a critical point in 
its history. We have recorded the first large brewery 
flotation, that of Guinness's, in 1886. Others followed, 
notably that of Samuel Allsopp & Sons, in February 1887, 
with a capital of 1,100,000 ; and that of Bass, Ratcliff 


& Gretton, in January 1888, with a capital of 2,720,000. 
For some time breweries all over the kingdom had been 
buying public-houses, in order to avoid the expense and 
uncertainty of constant competition for the custom of 
licensed victuallers. The possession of a large number 
of licensed premises gave a brewery a regular and steady 
trade. But the acquisition of them was an extremely 
expensive affair, and the standard of price for such pre- 
mises constantly rose. Brewing firms had therefore been 
obliged to raise a large number of mortgages and loans, 
and had only been waiting for an easy investment market 
to come to the public for capital to consolidate these 
liabilities. It was natural that they should at the same 
time decide to put their businesses under the Limited 
Liability Acts ; the old private partnership was apt to be 
a tiresome arrangement in businesses so large in scale. 
But apart from the legal and financial convenience of 
limited liability the only object which it was wise to have 
in view was the consolidation of the mortgages and loans. 
Even a moderate call for new ordinary capital would not 
have done any harm. But the Guinness flotation had 
been so eagerly taken up, and brewing profits at the 
moment were such a temptation to the investor, that 
some breweries put their whole capital on the market. 
The two courses of action were exemplified in the cases 
of Allsopp's and Bass's. The former brewery offered all 
classes of its shares for subscription ; the public demand 
was almost entirely for the ordinary and preference shares. 
Bass's on the other hand kept the ordinary and preference 
shares in the possession of the old shareholders, and offered 
the public 910,000 of debentures. They were taking the 
course that really represented the actual requirements of 
breweries at the time ; Allsopp's were using the opportunity 
of those requirements for a wholly different operation. 

The amount of money waiting for investment was 
enormous. The application for Allsopp's shares amounted 


1 to something like a hundred millions, and Bass's debentures 
were issued at 107 per cent. The rush of prospectuses 
was becoming so lively as to cause a fresh scrutiny of 
the limited liability laws, and a fear that the company 
promoter was not sufficiently under control. Suggestions 
were made that the law should demand two registrations, 
an initial one, which might be easy enough to keep the 

1 ball rolling, and a final one of a much more stringent kind 
in respect to paid-up capital and the proportion borne to 
it by preliminary expenses. Besides brewery notations, 
this year saw also the formation of several Trusts, the chief 
one being the Cheshire Salt Trust, with a capital of three 
millions ; and a more exciting affair the beginning of 

'* the South African gold " boom." The industry on the 
Rand was going ahead fast. The gold exports for a single 
month (February) were 75,647 more than the whole 
year's export in 1885 ; and from the Rand alone the export 
for March was 14,706 oz., and for April 15,853 oz. There 
seemed to be no cloud on the promising outlook. An 
article in The Times x on the Rand conditions dwelt on the 
absence of any disturbance such as the inrush of capitalists 
and labour had been expected to produce. President 
Kruger had appointed as Landrost of the district not a 
Boer unlikely to be in sympathy with the work, but a 
naturalised Austrian " of agreeable manners " ; and the 
Englishmen on the Rand were saying that they were 
better off than at Cape Town. The monthly output by 
the end of the year was about 21,000 oz., though it was 
believed that for private reasons a good deal of gold was 
being kept back. 2 ,; The connection which has already been 
spoken of between the new goldfield and the immensely 
wealthy diamond mines of South Africa came out clearly 
at a meeting of the Goldfields of South Africa Ltd. in 

1 22nd May 1888. 

1 Board of Trade Report on the Witwatersrand. Published i;th 
December 1888. 


October, when the shareholders expressed themselves 
as so confident in the gold industry that they wished to 
get rid of their De Beers shares, and put the money into 
the Rand. De Beers had in May amalgamated with the 
Kimberley Central Diamond Mining Company, and was 
now a virtual monopoly. 

The already prolific output of the Rand took the wind 
from the sails of the Currency Commission's report, which 
was published in November. The commission was equally 
divided in its recommendations, neither of which was 
original. One half recommended the issue of banknotes 
of small values ; the other half were for the bimetallist 
solution, and for an international agreement fixing the 
ratio at which coins of either metal should be available 
for the payment of debts, at the option of the debtor. 
No action was taken on the report. The Treasury was 
otherwise occupied, for Mr Goschen, the Chancellor of the 
Exchequer, had decided to carry out compulsorily the 
conversion of the Three-per-cents., which Mr Childers had 
attempted on voluntary lines in 1884. That attempt 
had not been useless. The twenty millions or so of stock, 
which had since that time borne 2f per cent, interest 
instead of 3 per cent., afforded an extremely useful in- 
dication of the real position of public credit ; they stood 
at 102. It was obvious that, if the lower rate of interest 
could still command a premium, it was absurd for the 
country to be going on paying 3 per cent. The fact that 
municipalities had been reconsidering their rate of interest 
must also have influenced Mr Goschen. In 1887 the Bir- 
mingham Corporation found its 3| per cent, stock standing 
at a premium of 3 to 4| ; and decided that the issue it was 
about to make should be at 3 per cent. only. It had 
obtained for an issue late in the year an average price of 
98, 15s. Consequently Mr Goschen had double reason 
to feel confidence in the lowering of the national rate of 
interest, and he did not hesitate to apply it to the whole of 


the national stock. His Budget of 1888 contained a scheme 
by which five hundred and fifty-eight millions of Three- 
per-cents, were to fall after the current year to 2f per 
cent., and after a further fourteen years to 2| per cent., at 
which they were to stand for twenty years. Some portion 
of the stock could legally be converted without notice ; and 
in order to induce stockholders who were entitled to notice 
to bring their holdings rapidly into the scheme, Mr Goschen 
offered a premium of 5s. per 100 on stock converted before 
12th April, and also a brokerage of Is. 6d. per 100 to 
brokers converting before that date. The result was that 
by 12th April the new stock amounted to four hundred and 
fifty millions, and the success of the scheme was assured. 
It too had profited by the better business conditions. 

To say, as we have said, that this was a year in which 
the public conscience was stirred must not be allowed to 
carry too sombre an implication. The passion of the year 
for coster songs (" 'E's all right when you know 'im, But 
you've got to know 'im fust " was of this date) reveals 
depths of innocent ease. Strenuous ideas, social con- 
ventions, had in many directions been relaxed. People 
of exalted birth were going almost ostentatiously into 
trade ; impoverished younger sons were taking positions 
in city businesses, and noble ladies were opening millinery 
shops. With the decline of fashionable aestheticism, 
artists had taken to dressing in the ordinary smart clothes 
of men about town, and velvet and long hair were no more 
the mode. The New Gallery, opened this year, found 
itself taking over from the Grosvenor Gallery a school of 
taste in art which had already become respectably tradi- 
tional ; and Mr Whistler had so far ceased to infuriate the 
ordinary citizen that he had become to Punch " the licensed 
Vistler." Advanced artistic taste was now occupying 
itself with William Morris's special gospel of " reasonable 
labour," and work in which the workman could take 
interest. The Arts and Crafts Guild, which had been 


founded in 1884, held this year its first exhibition. The 
restoration of the individual hand and brain to the chief 
place in manufacture was destined, in Morris's view, to 
chasten industrial art, wherein the domination of the;,/ 
machine was producing a gulf betwixt utility and orna- 
mentation ; the latter was becoming an excrescence, I 
and increasingly meaningless in design. 

The great excitement of the summer was the railway / 
" Race to the North." It began in July, when the London 
& North-Western and Caledonian Railways announced 
an eight-and-a-half-hours run to Edinburgh. As the 
journey had been one of ten hours this was an effective 
advertisement ; but the Great Northern and North- 
Eastern Railways promptly replied by announcing an eight- 
hours run. The North- Western and Caledonian did the 
same early in August ; and the race hit the public fancy. 
Men surrendered like children to the fascination of railway 
engines ; and rejoiced in this colossal duel of locomotive 
monsters, hurtling across England through the night, and 
pantingly comparing times in Edinburgh in the morning. 
After the respective routes had shaved down their 
difference to a matter of a minute or two, the rivals took 
a rest, and the public travelled by whichever route it had 
backed. Historically the principal interest of the struggle 
lies in the obvious deduction that the passenger traffic to 
Scotland was becoming very valuable ; which is another 
indication of the spread of wealth in the middle classes, 
and the readiness to expend it. Scientifically too the race 
had a special interest. Such tremendous rates of speed 
with such heavy loads meant firstly that the modern 
engineering tools had succeeded in producing large surfaces 
with a minimum of liability to destructive friction, and 
secondly that Bessemer steel rails would bear an astonish- 
ing amount of shock and strain. 

The other craze of the summer was neither useful nor 
scientific. It was in 1888 that Mr Baldwin first performed 


the feat of dropping from a balloon with a parachute, which 
opened as he fell and floated him to earth. It gave a fresh 
impetus to the rather failing interest in ballooning. 

Electric lighting had at length made the advance which 
enabled it to take its share in the busy company -promoting 
of the year. House-to-house supply had been rendered 
possible, and at the same time an Act was passed extending 
the duration of Provisional Electric Lighting Orders to 
forty-two years. This made the enterprise commercially 
profitable, and two companies were at once formed in 
London. They prudently undertook districts which con- 
tained enough theatres, clubs, and large hotels to secure a 
steady consumption the districts of Pall Mall, St James's 
and St Martin-in-the-Fields. A new process for making 
aluminium, reducing the cost from forty shillings a pound 
to about fifteen shillings a pound ; more experiments with 
a " spirit motor " ; and a successful employment of wax 
instead of tinfoil for the cylinders of phonographs, were 
minor activities of the inventors. Phonographs of the 
new kind were a great interest of the year. 

The Local Government Bill was the only parliamentary 
business to which the public paid much heed. The move- 
ment for setting up a Department of Agriculture was 
revived, and, as was natural, began to have more weight 
under a Government strong in the landed interest. Reform 
of the House of Lords was in the air. The case of a peer 
who had been warned off the turf late in 1887 had led Tine 
Times to remark that such a case brought us " nearer to the 
highly necessary reform of the House of Lords " ; but a 
motion in the House by Lord Rosebery proposing a 
Second Chamber of 200 members, some elected by the 
Peers, others by the town and county councils, others 
provided by an increase of life peerages, was but tamely 
debated, and was rejected by a majority of more than two 
to one. However, a few Conservative peers and several 
Liberal Unionist peers voted for it. The real interest of 


the session, after the Local Government Bill, was a vivid re- 
crudescence in the House of Commons of Irish controversy. 
Since his complete denial of the authenticity of the letter 
published in The Times in April 1887 Parnell, true to his 
constant disregard of English opinion, and little inclined, 
in a state of poor health, to give himself trouble, had taken 
no further steps in the matter. He had declined all advice 
to proceed against The Times for libel. But at the end of 
1887 a member of his party, finding what he considered to 
be ground for action on his own part in the articles on 
" Pamellism and Crime," had entered a libel suit. It came 
on for trial in July 1888, and a verdict was given against 
him. The trial was used to strike another blow at Parnell. 
Counsel for The Times was the Attorney-General ; and in 
consequence, when he produced and read in court further 
incriminating letters alleged to have been signed by Parnell, 
his speech was not far removed from an official indictment. 
Even Parnell could hardly treat this with contempt, and 
he moved in the House of Commons for a Select Committee. 
The Government offered him instead a commission of three 
judges, set up by an Act of Parliament. Feeling in the 
House ran very strong x ; it was said by the Liberals and 
the Irish that the proposal to set the Bench to work meant 
the hope of a prejudiced English verdict, and when the Bill 
was found to empower the commission to consider charges 
against " other persons " besides Parnell there was great 
indignation at the idea of placing virtually the whole 
question of Irish government before a legal tribunal. 
Mr Gladstone was in his most impassioned mood, and 
the committee stage of the Bill was marked by violent 
scenes in the House. The temper of Irish Nationalist 
members had been rather hot throughout the year. They 
were indignant at what they considered an insulting 
nonchalance in Mr Balfour, and from the beginning of the 
session they had accused him of deliberately absenting 
1 Cf. Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 390. 


himself from the House when Irish questions bulked largely 
on the notice paper. This smouldering resentment was 
partly responsible for the violence that accompanied the 
Parnell Commission Bill debates. The world outside 
cannot be said to have cared very much about the details of 
the affair, and when the commission met, in October 1888, 
no one paid great attention to the immense production 
of evidence. The terms of reference to the commission 
practically necessitated an examination into the speeches 
of Irish members and all disturbing events in Ireland for 
years past. Nor was there even as much popular interest 
as there would have been a few years later, when it was 
announced that Mr Cecil Rhodes, an ex-Cabinet Minister 
in Cape Colony, and a principal shareholder in De Beers, 
had been in correspondence with Parnell, and, in order to 
mark his view of Home Rule as a possible commencement 
/ of Devolution and Imperial Federation, had subscribed 
10,000 to the Irish party funds. Mr Rhodes expressed his 
own conviction, from his experience with the Dutch in Cape 
Colony, that the difficulty of the loyal minority in Ulster 
was one that would settle itself. 

Parliament assembled for an autumn sitting. It had 
an Employers' Liability Bill to deal with, modifying the 
doctrine of " common employment " in the workman's 
favour, introducing the responsibility of sub-contractors, 
and extending the benefits to seamen. Mr Chamberlain 
was evidently making his presence felt in the Coalition, for 
this was one of the measures of his Radical days. The 
session was also notable for some changes in procedure ; 
the House began meeting at three o'clock in the afternoon, 
instead of at four o'clock, and the Standing Committees on 
Law and Trade, which had been allowed to lapse, were again 
set up. This revived the idea of an Estimates Committee, 
but a Conservative Government was not likely to take so 
new a step. Its advocates found some cogent arguments in 
the agitation which was beginning about the defences of the 


country. It was clear that there would be strong pressure 
to increase the Naval Estimates, and an Estimates 
Committee might, it was pleaded, bring about that co- 
ordination of naval and military expenditure which was 
surely to be desired. The pressure was fully at work in a 
meeting at the Mansion House in May, when Admiral 
Hornby asked if England was really able to keep the sea ; 
and gave as his own reply the opinion that she would 
require 186 cruisers for the purpose. A committee had 
reported upon the state of the defences of our naval ports, 
and, cautious as its official phrases were, men discerned in 
the report a real concern about the existing circumstances. 
In every suburban railway carriage of a morning the navy, 
new battleships, new men, new methods, were the pre- 
vailing topic of conversation ; and Lord Charles Beresford, 
who had made a fighting reputation for himself at the 
bombardment of Alexandria, and Lord Randolph Churchill 
raised the subject on every possible occasion. The 
celebrations of the tercentenary of the Armada were a 
rallying ground for the agitators ; they were also an early 
instance of the local pageant, for the historic game of bowls 
on Plymouth Hoe was re-enacted, and was followed by a 
procession of all the sovereigns of England. The discussion 
of our defences gave some prominence also to an agitation 
persistent throughout these years for giving better atten- 
tion to the Volunteer movement, which was feeling itself 
neglected and very inadequately supported in funds by the 
War Office. This year saw it in peculiar difficulty owing 
to the necessity of abandoning its old training and shooting 
ground at Wimbledon. A year or two passed before it was 
in possession of new ground at Bisley. Volunteers, it may 
be remarked, were introducing cycling into their service, 
but the high bicycle did not lend itself well to such uses. 
In the world of labour there was a singular lull. To 
some extent, no doubt, the better trade conditions had 
absorbed unemployed labour ; and street meetings were 


not so severely under the ban of the police. Organisation 
was taking the energies of the most prominent labour 
leaders, and the Independent Labour Party was set on foot. 
The removal of all restrictions upon combination was the 
one item of the International Trade Union Congress upon 
which there was harmony. But the year is chiefly remark- 
able in this connection for the appearance of a newspaper 
which, though not formally associated with the labour 
movement, aimed at becoming a power among working 
men. This newspaper was The Star, a halfpenny evening 
paper, first published in January 1888. Several towns 
in the north had had such papers for some time ; and 
London had one, The Echo, designed like The Star to be a 
democratic organ. But The Echo displayed a rather un- 
diluted idealism, which tended to limit its public to men 
already possessing energetic political opinions. The pur- 
pose of The Star was rather, by providing an attractive and 
readable staple of news, to instil politics and other interests 
of the mind into readers who would never buy a paper for 
such things in the first place. It appealed also to the 
new generation at large, by starting with a galaxy of 
subversive talent in its staff of critics. Mr Bernard Shaw 
contributed the musical criticism, Mr Walkley, the 
dramatic, Mr John Davidson, and later Mr Richard Le 
Gallienne, the literary criticism. 

December brought round again a deputation of unem- 
ployed men to the Lord Mayor, but no one expected a very 
anxious winter. Public alarm about the East End was 
given a very different, and a much more gruesome, turn ; 
the notorious Whitechapel murders began this autumn. A 
woman was found murdered in the backyard of a house in 
Whitechapel on 31st August, and another on 8th Septem- 
ber ; two more similar murders took place on 30th Sep- 
tember, and on 15th October the incident occurred which 
introduced a peculiar horror, the police receiving postcards 
and letters signed " Jack the Ripper." The mutilations 


which accompanied the murders were atrocious, and 
seemed to prove that they were all the work of one man, 
and that he must have had a training in surgery. It 
was incredible that such things should continue with the 
hue and cry that was raised, and yet a fifth murder took 
place on 8th November. They even continued into 1889, 
and then the terrible series suddenly came to an end. 
The perpetrator was never brought to justice. 

At the end of the year news arrived of Stanley's progress 
on the expedition for the relief of Emin Pasha. The news 
was a whole year late ; the messages received from him 
reported the expedition safe and well in November 1887. 
As a matter of fact, reports had already reached England 
which rather dimmed the satisfaction. Stanley had left 
part of his force under Major Barttelot encamped at a 
certain point, to maintain his communications: He 
had trusted to a well-known chief of an Arab tribe, 
Tippoo Tib, an old slave-raider, to supply the camp 
with provisions, and Tippoo Tib had undertaken to do so. 
He failed to keep his word, and in July rumours had come 
to England that Barttelot and his force were in the greatest 
straits. In October word came of Barttelot's death, and 
no one knew then where Stanley was. The messages from 
him in November were followed by some in December, 
from Zanzibar, to the effect that the meeting between 
Stanley and Emin had taken place in January 1888, and 
that both were safe. 

Just at the time when this happy appendix was being 
placed to the history of the Soudan war, there was fighting , 
once more at Suakin. Sir F. Grenfell was in command in 
Egypt, and he inflicted a defeat upon some dervish forces 
which had been inclined to press Suakin too closely. The 
battle revived in England discussion of our position at 
Suakin, but Lord Salisbury made no declaration of policy 
beyond the determination to retain the place. 



IT was natural that after a year such as 1888 men 
should come to the next with good heart. Trade was 
cheerful, and may for the moment stand personified 
in jolly Colonel North, then at the height of his fame, 
spending his money on his great house at Eltham, on 
his greyhounds, and on large genial benefactions a 
millionaire playing up to his character. The Stock 
Exchange found the way to middle-class pockets, and the 
investors who had surrendered to the fascinations of the 
brewery boom and the gold boom were ready for all sorts 
of further adventures. An underground railway from 
St James's Street to Holborn Circus, with a capital of 
750,000 ; a tramway, working on the conduit system in 
an experimental stage at Northfleet, Kent ; a number of 
electric light companies ; an amalgamation of the two chief 
telephone companies the National and the United into 
one concern, with an enlarged capital ; and an incessant con- 
version of private trading companies into limited liability 
concerns all flooded the market with prospectuses, 
but did not exhaust the money awaiting investment. 
Another sign of the greater distribution of wealth is to be 
found in Mr Goschen's Budget speech of the year, when he 
pleaded for a new policy of taxing a much greater number 
of articles of consumption, since the old policy of taxing 
a small number no longer spread taxation fairly according 
to wealth. 1 There were also indications of prosperity, 
however deplorable from the strictly ethical point of view, 
in the steady increase of the return from duties on intoxi- 
cants, which helped to keep up the Budget surpluses of 
1 Elliot's Life of Lord Goschen, ii. 158. 



these years, and in the growth of betting and gambling. 
This latter subject greatly exercised respectable minds at 
this time ; raids upon gambling clubs by the police were 
frequent ; the Convocation of Canterbury had a report 
on the subject made to it by a committee ; and legislation 
was vaguely demanded. It was felt that clubs were not 
the only point at which the police might strike. Cheaper 
newspapers had produced so large a betting population 
that a regular professional class of bookmakers had sprung 
up to meet the requirements of those who were from their 
circumstances unable to go to race meetings, but found 
in betting from newspaper reports the kind of excitement 
which could colour their monotonous lives by being 
crammed into factory dinner-hours. Meanwhile one of the 
countless prospectuses of the year can be seen now to have 
been a promise of yet more cheap newspapers to come ; it 
asked for a capital to run wood-pulp paper-mills in Norway. 
Some moralists, contemplating this result of news- 
paper reading, were inclined to deplore the teaching of so 
many people to read. But on the whole the movement 
for free education advanced strongly, with the argument 
that, if education had led to difficulties, this only meant 
that education must be fuller. The Technical Education 
Act was passed this year, with very little discussion ; its 
provisions have been already noted. 1 In this year also 
University " Extension " teaching took a new form ; a 
meeting of Extension Students at Oxford had been tried 
as an experiment in the summer of 1888, and had been so 
successful that it was now decided to establish the idea on 
a more complete and definite scale. Courses of lectures were 
to be so arranged that students could come into residence 
for either a fortnight or a month at choice ; and in the more 
continuous association of tutors and students the extension 
system would acquire, as it were, the additional value of a 
brief university term. 

1 See page 210; 

244 LONDON AND LABOUft [1889 

An unfortunate incident in the general revival of cheerful 
interest in all kinds of subjects was that ecclesiastical 
controversies also revived. Dr Benson was now Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, and he allowed himself to be induced 
to cite the Bishop of Lincoln, Dr King, before him for 
ritualistic practices. No one had much belief in this res- 
toration of a form of procedure, the validity of which was 
more than doubtful, and the enforcing power nil. Dean 
Church described the precedents as " fishy." The " Lin- 
coln Judgment " which issued from the case remained, 
failing appeal to a tribunal which had enforcing power, 
an expression of opinion from which each side was free 
to extract what it liked and neglect the rest. But the 
proceedings served to irritate a number of old sores ; 
and, as it happened at the time that the new and very 
elaborate reredos in St Paul's Cathedral had been attacked 
as papistical, another centre was provided for disagreement. 
How radically general public opinion had altered since the 
old days of ritualistic prosecutions may be seen in the 
tendency to be more interested in aesthetic than in doctrinal 
criticism of the reredos. The change may also be seen under 
another aspect in the report of a joint committee of both 
Houses of the Convocation of Canterbury, which recom- 
mended the establishment of brotherhoods of celibate 
clergy as the most useful way of supplementing the work 
of the Church in large towns. 1 

The elections to the first county councils took place in 
the spring, and, although the social stirrings of the previous 
year had given some indication of the new spirit, no one 
was prepared for the astonishing energy aroused by the 
elections to the London County Council. It may in some 
lights be seen as pathetic that London should thus confess 
its backwardness in municipal development, should be 
genuinely excited by the prospect of activities which were 

1 One brotherhood, called the Order of St Paul, was founded, 
but came to a premature end; 


an old story in every other large centre of population ; 
Manchester and Glasgow men might have smiled as a 
grown man smiles at a child. But at least, when the 
elections were over, London had such a council as probably 
had never been gathered for municipal work anywhere in 
the world. Some of the most capable members of the 
House of Lords were on it Lord Hobhouse, Lord Rose- 
bery, Lord Monkswell ; Radical scions of great houses, 
like Mr George Russell and Mr Richard Grosvenor ; 
philanthropists like Mr Quintin Hogg ; some of the most 
notable economists, such as Sir Thomas Farrer, Sir Reginald 
Welby, and Sir John Lubbock ; men of letters like Mr 
Frederic Harrison ; City magnates, barristers and, above 
all, a very powerful force of working men, among them John 
Burns, who had shown in fighting his election at Battersea 
that his recent exploits in London streets were not those 
of a mere ranter, but those of a man whose power with 
workmen was almost what he chose to make it. Alto- 
gether the elections blew a blast of new air into every 
corner of London. The doctrine that the working man had 
little to expect from the ceaseless strife of party in Parlia- 
ment was hasty ; but it did far more good than harm in 
turning the minds of the labouring men to the possibilities 
of the London County Council. " Practicable Socialism " 
was the motto with which Burns entered the council. 
The novel which we have already mentioned as having 
borne a great share in the foundation of the People's 
Palace, Walter Besant's All Sorts and Conditions of Men, 
gives us the real key to the enthusiasm with which 
the first London County Council was elected. One of 
the characters in that book is pleading with a club of 
working men to turn from barren political theories : 
" Has any Government," he cries, " ever done anything 
for you ? Has it raised your wages ? Has it shortened 
your hours ? Has it protected you against rogues and 
adulterators ? . . . Listen. You want clean streets and 

^^u>~- y 


houses in which decent folk can live. The Government has 
appointed sanitary officers. Yet look about you. Put 
your heads into the courts of Whitechapel what has the 
sanitary officer done ? You want strong and well-built 
houses. There are Government inspectors. Yet look at 
the lath and plaster houses that a child could kick over. 
You want honest food. All that you eat and drink is 
adulterated. How does the Government help you there ? 
. . . You want your own Local Government. What every 
little town has you have not." 1 Seven years later 
London had its k Local Government, and rose to the occa- 
sion as keenly as the most ardent reformer could desire. 
There is no more important landmark for the social 
historian of the last thirty years than that election. The 
point is not that there was a large majority on the more 
democratic side the Progressives, as they were ultimately 
called but that the keenness displayed is a measure of the 
quantity of thought and activity which was at this time 
deliberately diverted from parliamentary politics, because 
of the opinion that better work could be done elsewhere. 
/The deliberateness must be borne in mind, because when 
(that activity returned at last into political channels it was 
'in some quarters mistaken for a new force. 

Another event of the early months of 1889 which sprang 
from the introspections of 1888 was the foundation of 
the Christian Social Union. Its aim was to take full 
account of the changes which were occurring in the social 
system, the immense nexus which was replacing the old 
relations of employer and employed, of salesman and 
purchaser, and to awaken a new kind of responsibility. 
In a word, it asked afresh the question, Who is my neigh- 
bour ? and suggested that only the widest possible answer 
could now satisfy a Christian. 

The parliamentary session of 1889 was chiefly interesting 
for the triumph of the party which had been agitating the 
1 All Sorts and Conditions of Men, chapter xxviii; 


question of our naval defences. The naval estimates 
provided for a new construction programme of the 
enormous size of twenty-one and a half millions, ten of 
which were to be drawn from the Consolidated Fund over 
a period of seven years, the remaining eleven and a half 
to fall on the estimates over a period of five years. Ten 
new battleships were to be laid down under this programme, 
the truth being that one of the great changes in ideas of 
naval construction was taking place. The introduction 
of armour-plating had, quite naturally, turned the minds 
of naval constructors rather to the defensive side of ship- 
building; armour was to protect the ship from destruc- 
tion. It now occurred to the authorities or perhaps 
especially to Mr White, the Chief Constructor that the 
offensive duties of a fleet had fallen too much into the 
background ; and these ten battleships were to inculcate 
the new doctrine of offensive power. The voice which 
might most honestly have been raised against this great 
expenditure was stilled. On 27th March John Bright died, 
after a long illness. He must for years have felt himself 
but little in accord with political developments ; and the 
support his name gave to the Unionist Coalition must have 
been as sad to him as his own inability to remain in the 
Government which bombarded Alexandria. It was by an 
impulse little short of inspiration that The Times applied 
as his epitaph the words written by Matthew Arnold of 
Byron : 

" He taught us little, but our soul 
Had felt him like the thunder's roll." 

Beyond naval affairs the session had only minor 
interests. The long-talked-of Department of Agriculture ^ - 
was at length set up, with Mr Chaplin as its first President. 
The Scottish Local Government Act, extending the 
establishment of County Government to Scotland, was 
found to be more remarkable than had at first sight 


appeared, since it gave permission to apply part of the 
Exchequer grant to the county authority for the payment 
of school fees, and so established the principle of free 
education. Mention must also be made of the Cruelty 
to Children Act, passed this year, since it extended the 

'protection given under the old Act so as to include the 
exposure of children for begging purposes in the streets, 
and also added an improvement by permitting the issue 
of a search warrant by a magistrate on sworn information, 
instead of leaving the duty of prosecution to Poor Law 
Guardians only. There was some hope that Parliament 
might also face in this year the problem of the light gold 
coinage, by applying part of the Budget surplus to the 
calling-in of light gold coins at no loss to the holders of 
them, provided they were paid in before a certain time. 
It was fairly clear by now that if once the gold coinage 
could be restored to its value there was every prospect 
of such a supply from the Rand that for a very long 
time to come there would be bullion enough to maintain 
the value. Any man may see for himself to-day what the 
new supply meant. Out of every ten sovereigns that he 
receives in ordinary transactions he will probably not 
find one more than fifteen years old ; it is quite possible 
that no one of any given ten would be more than eight or 
nine years old ; and three or four of them would be only 
a year or two old. In 1889, when the Light Coinage Bill 
was introduced, it was quite a common thing for people 
to have sovereigns of more than one previous reign in their 
pockets and the nearest previous reign was fifty-two 
years away. There had been such a shortage of bullion 
that new coinage had fallen hopelessly behind the demand. 
But the Bill was dropped. Even in 1889 the solution pro- 
vided by the new supply of gold was of course less of a 
certainty than it afterwards became ; and the bimetallists 
held their ground, while those who were against them felt 
it necessary to express, as that conservative financier, Mr 


Gladstone, did at this time, a readiness to permit the issue 
of small banknotes. Meanwhile the Rand output rose 
until it reached a monthly average in this year of some 
35,000 oz. ; the white population of the Transvaal was 
about 100,000, but the Boers were said to be treating the 
new industry fairly, and no ominous sounds came from 
that part of the world. The relations between the two 
groups of the Ministerial Coalition were still uneasy. Mr 
Chamberlain was difficult for the Conservatives to absorb. 
He was advocating the production of some " substitute 
for Mr Gladstone's rejected Bill," 1 when the Government 
preferred to let the grass grow over the whole question of 
alternative measures for Ireland ; his idea was the pro- 
duction of a large and final scheme of land purchase, by 
which the difficulties in the way of a generous grant of 
local government would be, he thought, much lessened. 
The Tories, on the other hand, were talking of abolishing 
the Viceroyalty, as the logical conclusion of the Act of 
Union, and were drawing careful distinctions between the 
state of things on the Clanricarde estate the extreme 
case of an absentee landlord and that on the Massereene 
estate, where the Plan of Campaign had, they said, been 
" worsted at close quarters," and boycotting had failed. 
A Cabinet Committee did indeed sit on the question of 
land purchase at the end of the year ; the price of coalition 
had to be paid, and Mr Chamberlain possessed the means 
of enforcing payment. He returned during the year to 
his old occupation of constructing electoral machines. A 
Central Organising Committee for the Liberal Unionist 
party, on which representatives from all portions of the 
country were to sit, was formed in March. A Liberal 
Unionist van campaign over the country, with speech- 
makers, magic lanterns, and pamphlets, was opened in 
October ; and a Government which had lost five seats at 
bye-elections could not afford to offend the master hand 
1 Letter to his constituents in Birmingham, 2oth March 1889. 


at campaigning. A quarrel between Mr Chamberlain and 
Lord Randolph Churchill over the question whether the 
latter had, or had not, the first reversion of John Bright's 
seat in Birmingham showed that there was plenty of touchi- 
ness in the Coalition ; and Lord Salisbury's speech to the 
conference of Conservative Organisations, in which he 
again offered to make way for another Premier, if that 
would advance the progress of the Coalition, was a signi- 
ficant confession. The quarrel mentioned was afterwards 
looked back upon as the beginning of the end of Lord 
Randolph's career ; Mr Chamberlain had his way in the 
matter completely. 

But all this was, to the general public, taking place 
comparatively behind the scenes. Its only interest in 
Ireland had more spectacular opportunities. The Parnell 
Commission suddenly turned dramatic at the beginning 
of the year. After weeks of evidence the judges came to 
the question of the letters alleged to have been written 
by Parnell, and demanded the production of the man who 
supplied them to The Times. The moment he appeared 
Irishmen were on the alert ; he proved to be a broken- 
down journalist named Pigott, whom every Irish member 
knew as ready to do anything for money. To Englishmen 
the sensation came a few days later, when Sir Charles 
Russell, who was counsel for Parnell, made Pigott write 
certain words in the witness-box, confronted him with the 
same misspellings in the notorious letters as he now made 
in court, and thundered him into a total breakdown and a 
confession. He had forged the letters. He made a full 
confession next day, and fled to Madrid. Detectives 
followed him, and the news published on 2nd March that 
he had shot himself in a hotel there on the arrival of the 
detectives was, for the ordinary man, the end of the drama. 
The Parnell Commission might again relapse into the 
patient taking of evidence ; it had at least provided a 
genuine excitement. However, there was another small 


excitement of a different kind to come. A warrant was 
out for the arrest of Dr Tanner, an Irish member, on 
account of a speech he had delivered in Ireland. He had 
escaped the police for some time, and suddenly appeared 
in the House of Commons, when no one but his friends 
had for weeks known where he was. London enjoyed the 
comedy of his Jack-in-the-box appearance enormously, and 
when he left the House in the middle of a close bodyguard 
of members the group grew into a kind of hilarious pro- 
cession to a neighbouring hotel. There Dr Tanner sub- 
mitted to arrest ; and the whole affair was too much of a 
joke for anyone but Radical members to labour the point 
that this kind of execution of an Irish warrant was a 
new piece of Mr Balfour's tyranny. It was to the 
Londoner a gay beginning to a season which brought him 
visits from General Boulanger, who flaunted himself as a 
Republican hero ; the Shah of Persia, who got himself 
instantly into street songs; and Barnum's show. 

The summer brought also one of those baffling criminal 
trials which have the power of absorbing the whole nation's 
attention. Early in August Mrs Maybrick was condemned 
on a charge of poisoning her husband, and it was said at once 
that " not one in three of the thousands who have followed 
the case expected a verdict of guilty." 1 Mr Maybrick 
was a man who had taken all sorts of drugs eighteen 
different kinds within a single fortnight and the doctors 
called during the case differed hopelessly as to the cause 
of death. A great popular agitation followed the verdict, 
and public meetings were held all over the country. The 
sentence of death was commuted, and very distinguished 
lawyers devoted themselves to the task of trying to secure 
Mrs Maybrick's release. The agitation was unsuccessful. 
The case must find a place in history because it focussed 
anew all the strong feeling in favour, first, of a reform, 
of procedure which should allow prisoners to be put on 
1 The Times, 8th August 1889. 


oath and give evidence, and, secondly, of the establish- 
ment of a Court of Criminal Appeal. 

Thus in a full tide of interests the country swept on to a 
profound shock. On 14th August 2500 dock labourers at 
the East and West India Dock and South London Docks 
struck work. For a day or two no interest was taken in 
the matter. Then the large but orderly crowd at the West 
India Dock gates began to draw people's attention, and, 
as an uneasy temper manifested itself in other docks, 
the cause of the strike became known. The men, working 
at the most casual kind of casual labour, attending daily at 
the dock gates, getting perhaps an hour's work one day, and 
no work for three days, and then two or three hours again, 
had struck on a demand that hiring of labour should not 
be for less than four hours at a time, and that there should 
be a uniform rate of pay of sixpence an hour. A neces- 
sary corollary of these demands was that the " contract " 
system of work at the docks should be abandoned that 
is to say, instead of letting out separately the job of loading 
or unloading this or that ship to a contractor, who then 
hired men as he needed them, the dock companies should 
themselves be responsible for the labour in their docks, 
and by not splitting up the various jobs should be 
able to hire men for a decent period, transferring them, 
as needed, to different ships. Dock labour was an 
extreme case of unregulated interaction of supply and 
demand. It was unskilled labour, crowds of men 
were always ready for it, and the dock companies had 
acted accordingly. By letting out the work on contract 
they made their money without any responsibility, 
and the contractor made his profit on the basis of the 
overwhelming supply of the labour he needed. The 
men's demands amounted to a minimum wage of two 
shillings a day for those who were lucky enough to be taken 
on. This implied no weekly minimum, because no man was 
sure of being taken on two days running, much less for 


a week. It implied no general wage-earning standard, 
because no man could be sure of being taken on at all. 
There can be little wonder that a strike begun by men of 
such casual employment was not expected to last long. 

On 17th Angntf. gooo men marched from the docks 
to the offices of the West India Dock Committee in 
the City, and a deputation of them saw the chairman, Mr 
Norwood, a Member of Parliament, who told them that 
their demands should have attention, but that he could 
promise them nothing until they were in a different state 
of mind. He made, the great mistakaof miscalculating not 
only the possibility of organisation among the men, but 
also the change in public opinion about the operation 
of laws of supply and demand. The organisation began 
to show at once what had been happening in the past few 
years at those street meetings, which had from time to 
time broken the surface routine of London ; men of the 
most casual type of workman had come to recognise certain 
leaders and to be accustomed to listen to them. In other 
parts of the country, where a single industry was dominant 
on the coalfields, in the cotton towns in Lancashire, 
the engineering towns of the Tyne and the Wear and the 
Clyde workmen had for years had their leaders. But 
in the great welter of London, where there were so many 
small industries that there was no common industrial 
feeling, there had been no opportunity for such concentra- 
tion, until the lack of employment, due to a period of de- 
pressed trade, threw together in the streets workmen of all 
kinds ; and men of force and capacity seized the chance to 
give a general basis to labour movements. The fact that 
this had been accomplished was of immense importance 
now when a specific case arose. John Burns instantly 
came back upon the East End scene, and found ready to 
work with him a dock labourer with an extraordinary hold 
on his fellows, Ben Tillett. 

By 20th August the strike had extended to all the docks. 


Pickets from Millwall, Victoria Docks, and Albert Docks 
reported that all the men there were out, and from Tilbury 
1000 had come out. The dock companies had attempted 
to get the work done by coolies from the ships, but these 
men had refused to do it. More important still was 
the announcement which Burns was able to make to the 
men, that he had received virtual promises from other great 
ports Liverpool, Glasgow, Grimsby and Hull that the 
dock labourers there would support the London men by 
striking for an equivalent rise in wages, if ships were sent 
round from London to those ports for loading or unloading. 
Next day the dock directors placarded their docks with 
posters offering men twenty shillings a week to come in 
behind the strikers' backs. The average wage of a London 
dock labourer had rarely reached ten shillings a week. But 
the strike leaders were confident that "blacklegging" would 
be impossible on a large enough scale to break the strike. 
They picketed the docks ; and then another procession 
went to the City, with 20,000 men in it this time, quiet, 
and giving no trouble to the police. Not the least re- 
markable fact about the whole affair is that already it 
was clear that the general feeling in the City was on the 
side of the men ; the dock companies' attitude had been 
so careless an exploiting of the mass of unskilled labour 
that even the City man felt uncomfortable. 

When another large procession marched iip,_on_22iid 
August, various business men brought pressure to bear 
on the dock directors, to induce them to meet the men's 
leaders again. On this occasion the directors said they 
would agree to a four-hours minimum engagement, when as 
much as four hours of the working day were left ; but they 
would not give up the right to engage men at any hour they 
chose (which meant that the minimum wage would not 
always be earned), nor would they agree to the payment 
of sixpence an hour, except with the maintenance of the 
contract system. The interview therefore came to nothing. 


The companies now tried importing labour from other 
places, and a number of men were hired from Liverpool. 
But the pickets successfully brought them out next day, 
and telegrams from the strike leaders stopped an attempt 
to get men from Southampton. Two shillings an hour was 
now being offered to " blacklegs," but the picketing was 
effective, and although a few men were smuggled into the 
docks, and kept there continuously, being fed and lodged 
in the sheds, the companies were baffled. Meanwhile the 
lightermen on the river, whose services might have been 
used to unload ships out in the stream and land the cargoes 
at wharves, had also come out on strike for better con- 
ditions. ByJ}5th August, when a great meeting took place 
in Hyde Park, it was clear that public opinion was very 
largely with the men, the contract system having been 
one of the recognised forms of sweating condemned by the 
House of Lords Committee ; the " docker's tanner " made 
its appearance in music-hall songs, always to a burst of 
applause ; and a fund was set on foot Dr Liddon taking 
a large share in the work to provide food for the wives 
and children of the men on strike. More important still, 
the shipowners were against the dock companies, who 
charged shipping companies heavy prices for handling 
cargoes, and then proved themselves such inefficient 
middlemen that they lost the means of doing the work. 
The organisation of the strike now included a regular 
daily programme. There was always a huge meeting of 
men on Tower Hill, a procession to the City with collecting 
boxes, which never came back empty, and a meeting after- 
wards at the West India Dock gates. Money was shared 
out by the leaders in the evening. Before the end of 
August the streets around the docks had been emptied of 
almost all traffic ; there was no work for waggons or carts 
to do. The Corn Exchange and the Coal Exchange were 
practically idle, the wool salerooms and the Mincing Lane 
rooms were idle too. On 26th August a new element 


came into the struggle, Mr Sydney Buxton, Member of 
Parliament for Poplar, the dockers' division, joining in 
the interviews between the dock directors and the strike 

On 28th August the directors said that, if the sixpence 
an hour was not insisted upon, they might meet the other 
demands ; but the men kept firmly to that minimum. If 
the directors had believed in the men's power of continuing 
the fight, they might by this time perhaps have taken 
warning from the sound of the cheers which greeted Burns 
and Tillett as they left the dock offices after that interview. 
The two leaders had come this time without the customary 
procession ; the cheers were from sober City men in the 
street, who had happened to recognise them as they left 
the dock offices. Mr Buxton now suggested that the 
shipowners might deal with the men directly, engaging 
the labour to handle their own cargoes, and Sir Thomas 
' Sutherland, chairman of the Peninsular & Oriental 
line, was ready to take up the suggestion, if the dock 
companies would stand aside altogether. But some ship- 
owners, chiefly men in a small way of business, did not 
care for this solution. 

September opened with a new interposition of negoti- 
ators. Cardinal Manning, whose father and brother had 
been chairmen of dock companies, had been to see the 
Lord Mayor, and to suggest an attempt at intervention. 
The two of them went to interview Mr Norwood, and spoke 
to him plainly of " the isolated and untenable position 
of the dock companies " ; Mr Norwood now argued that 
it was impossible in the existing state of the dock finances 
to accede to the men's demands. It may be noted that 
a sidelight on this view of the question can be gained 
from the angry comment of the shipowners, to the 
effect that the " stupid rivalries " of the dock companies 
had caused them to overweight themselves with capital. 
For a day or two after the intervention of the Cardinal 


and the Lord Mayor public opinion was in suspense, and 
the proceedings of the strikers were more critically watched 
The issue of a manifesto by Burns and Cunninghame 
Graham, threatening a " general strike," was condemned 
as a rather hectoring proceeding ; and the work of the 
strikers' pickets was so jealously scrutinised that accusa- 
tions of incitement to violence began to be made. Then 
the dock directors foolishly threw opinion against them 
once more by refusing to recognise Burns and Tillett at all 
in the negotiations, which had now narrowed themselves 
down to the single question of the extra penny an hour. 

On 6th September a new move was made. A conference 
was called at the Mansion House, consisting of the Lord 
Mayor, Cardinal Manning, the Bishop of London, Mr 
Sydney Buxton, John Burns and Tillett. There seemed 
to be a possible line of negotiation in a resumption of 
work at fivepence an hour, on condition that within 
a certain period the rate should rise to sixpence an hour. 
Bums and Tillett refrained from pressing for recognition 
by the dock directors, and the Lord Mayor, the Cardinal, 
and Mr Buxton conducted interviews with the directors. 
This led to an unfortunate hitch. By some misunder- 
standing the three negotiators thought that, if the sixpence 
an hour were granted on 1st January, the men would 
accept those terms, and they succeeded in making the 
dock directors agree to this. But as the extra penny was 
not, in this agreement, applied also to overtime payment, 
the men refused to accept so long a delay, and the terms 
were rejected at a mass meeting. The negotiators, who 
had believed that they could on their part offer the definite 
adherence of the men, were offended, and it seemed likely 
that public sympathy would be alienated. Probably one 
thing that prevented such a change of opinion was the 
unswerving energy which the leaders of the strike were 
devoting to the suppression of tendencies to violence. 
Burns, interposing his sturdy shoulders and fists between 


strikers and blacklegs whenever a fight seemed imminent, 
deserved all the credit he got for riding the storm. More- 
over the sharing-out of relief had been admirably organised ; 
the pickets were on the whole showing excellent discipline ; 
and the strike was altogether being conducted with no 
little dignity. 

On 13th September, when it had lasted four weeks, 
settlement at last began to appear within sight. The 
conference of negotiators had begun again on 9th 
September, and Cardinal Manning and Mr Buxton were in 
communication with the dock directors. The announce- 
ment that the lightermen were willing to return to work, 
pending arbitration in their case, was the first real relief ; 
and it was accompanied by a rumour that the dock negotia- 
tions were proceeding on the basis of the payment of six- 
pence an hour beginning on 1st November. On Saturday, 
15th September, the dock settlement was signed on those 
lines. The men had won practically all their demands, 
and a huge triumphant meeting was held in Hyde Park. 
The dock directors undertook not to discriminate against 
strikers, and the strikers not to discriminate against 
blacklegs. The latter undertaking had behind it, as 
everyone knew, the strength of the fact that the strike 
had organised at last some of the most casual labour in 
the country. The Dock, Wharf, and Riverside Labourers 
Union had grown out of it, and under one of the most 
prominent of the strike lieutenants, Tom Mann, it grew 
rapidly into a body formidable enough to be sure that the 
ground gained would not be lost. Within a month many 
of those who had been blacklegs in the strike were 
members of the union. The dock directors held a peevish 
meeting, complaining of the attitude during the strike of 
the clergy and the big shipowners, and even of the public. 
The Strike Committee published their accounts, duly 
audited, 1 and showed the world that, out of 46,499 re- 
1 The Times, 4th December 1889. 


ceived in subscriptions (4000 had come in one sum from 
Australia, and large sums from Germany and France) 
there was only a sum of 192, 11s. for which the auditors 
could not account. This minute failure was due to a 
natural difficulty in keeping accounts at the beginning of 
the strike. That it was so minute, in an average distribu- 
tion of over 11,000 a week to a great number of men not 
at the time bound together in a regular organisation, is 
an astonishing tribute, alike to the leaders who carried it 
out, and to the men's acceptance of their leaders' control. 
London hiad^last_seeq organise^ |afrpur at war ; and, 
because things thathappen in London have the newspapers 
at their service, the whole country had seen it too, in a 
way in which it had never yet seen a strike. This may 
partly account for the friendliness of the London public 
to the strikers ; London is always ready to be carelessly 
genial towards something that is fresh. In one sense 
indeed the strike did inaugurate a new chapter. The 
trade unions all over the kingdom had supported men as 
yet unorganised, and that unrest in London, which had 
appeared to casual observers so vague and so easily to 
be distinguished from the recognised even, by contrast, 
respectable labour movements, had coalesced with Trade 
Unionism. For the most unskilled and casual labour the 
laws of supply and demand were no longer to be in control 
of the market. The dock strike had done effectively for 
men what the Committee on Sweating was trying to do 
for women ; and political economy as the elder generation 
understood it had been dethroned. The organised 
strength of the workmen, with public opinion acting to 
some extent as the " governor " on the engine, had intro- 
duced the new element of regulation. As long as strikes 
were confined to skilled trades the change was not so 
apparent, for, after all, the willingness of the skilled 
men was a vital feature of the supply ; it could not be 
regarded as such in an unskilled labour market. 


Barely had the dock strike been settled when another 
serious one occurred in London, at the South Metropolitan 
Gas Works. Then came a regular crop of strikes : the 

- workers at the Silvertown Rubber Works came out, and 
so did bakers, omnibus men and tramcar men. The 
engineers at the Maxim-Nordenfeldt Works followed, and 
the employees in the gas department of the Manchester 
Corporation. Philosophical obseryers noted two distinct 
forms of strike among those going on in the last portion 
& of the year. One form that, for instance, of the strikes 
of bakers, omniFus men and tramcar men was for the 
lightening of a heavy load of work ; the other that of the 
gas employees and the engineers arose from the men's 
claim to a voice in the control of the work, on such points 
as the abolition of overtime and the regulation of piecework. 
The latter came to be called the " New Tr^eJJnipnism,"^ 
and people, who had never had enough bitter things to say 

>. \of the old straightforward strikes for more wages, began 
/now to think of them as almost praiseworthy in contrast 
with the new kind of strike. The South Metropolitan 
Gas Strike was rendered notable by the policy which the 
directors adopted ; they offered to apply the co-operative 
principle to the work, the men to participate in the profits 
on a sliding scale, receiving 1 per cent, on their wages for 
every penny by which the price fell below two and eight- 
pence per thousand cubic feet. 1 The Union objected to 
this arrangement, as likely to weaken the men's allegiance 
to the Union, and the dispute went on. It lasted until 
well into the new year, and then in February 1890 ended 
in the complete surrender of the men, who accepted the 
profit-sharing principle, and returned to the hours in 
force before the strike. The serious outbreak of strikes 
caused considerable discussion of the possibility of setting 

1 The price of gas in London is regulated by an Act of Parlia- 
ment, under which a fall of price accompanies every advance of a 
certain magnitude in profits. 


up conciliation boards. They had been working well for 
twenty years in the north of England, 1 and the London 
Chamber of Commerce appointed a committee to consider 
the introduction of the principle as part of the chamber's 
work. A Blue Book on strikes, published in November, LX 
showed that, out of 509 strikes in 1888, 332 had been 
settled by arbitration. 

One or two other interests at the end of the year diverted 
the public mind from industrial experiences. Late in 
October a meeting was held at St James's Hall to urge the ^ 
Government to action in the matter of rabies among dogs. 
In 1870 eight counties had been affected by it ; in 1889 
thirty -three were affected, and the number of deaths from 
hydrophobia had amounted in thirty-eight years to 939. 
There was a movement for founding a Pasteur Institute 
in London for the treatment of cases ; but the desire for 
prophylactic treatment was kept subordinate to a demand 
for a general muzzling order to be enforced for twelve 
months. Even Pasteur himself was strong on the point 
that by such regulations hydrophobia could be entirely 
stamped out. Moreover prophylaxis by inoculation was 
at the moment somewhat on its trial in England. There 
has always been a strong opposition to the vaccination 
laws, and so many people had been going to prison rather 
than conform to them that the Government had this 
year to set up a Royal Commission on the subject. 

In November Stanley and Emin Pasha were at last 
approaching civilisation, and in December they reached 
Zanzibar. Emin had been ill, but his health was improv- 
ing, and it seemed likely that his long years in the Soudan, 
his extreme danger, and the anxieties he must have suffered 
when the fall of Khartoum left him utterly alone, would not 
lastingly have injured him. Stanley was returning, not 
only with the rescued man, but with new geographical 

1 See a letter by Dr Spence Watson in The Times, 5th October 


knowledge as to the extent of the great Victoria Nyanza. 
There was, however, reservation in the enthusiasm over 
the news of the arrival in Zanzibar. The affair of Major 
Barttelot and the rearguard of the expedition was still 
awaiting elucidation. 

In the closing days of the year Robert Browning died 
in Venice. A well-known and well-liked figure in London 
society, he was in advance of his day in his refusal to play 
the poet, and his taste for passing among his fellow-men as 
one of themselves. Yet those with whom he had least 
association the over-earnest and the over-intense had 
done most to foster admiration of his work. 



TEN years of the new social spirit, of the revolt 
against political economy, may not have achieved 
much for the poorest and most oppressed forms 
of labour. Sweating, the knowledge of which had gone 
to the hearts of decent people, remained almost un- 
diminished, though here and there workgirls had com- 
bined. Yet those who could see further than their own 
pet remedies (and pet remedies abounded to a degree that 
makes the innocence of the eighties almost as remarkable 
as their warm heart) had cause to rejoice. Labour had 
not grown tidier in its habits, more elevated in its amuse- 
ments, more thoughtful in its leisure. On the contrary 
it was betting and drinking rather faster than before. 
But it was far on the road to being able to bargain for its 
wages ; and, slow though the visible differences may have 
been, it was none the less a vast change that has put the 
great majority of labouring men in the position formerly 
occupied by the most skilled and most intelligent alone. 
Moreover even among the intelligent and the well -organised 
workmen there was new force of will. One of the strikes 
of the early part of 1890 was a coal-mining strike in the 
Midland district. It lasted only four days, the men ob- 
taining their demands ; but it aroused its share of comment. 
" Twenty or even ten years ago," said The Times, 1 " it 
would have been out of the question for 300,000 workmen 
to combine so perfectly as to stop work at one given 
moment and to resume it at another." The importance 

1 aist March 1890. 

264 A STORMY ENDING [1890 

of a big strike having occurred in London is nowhere better 
seen than in the greatly enlarged interest which was now 
taken in all labour disputes. Much of it ceased to be a 
sympathetic interest. The world, pursuing its custom 
of making distinctions satisfactory to itself, was careful to 
separate sweating and bad housing conditions from the 
general labour movement ; it thought it could hold up 
its hands at the latter while devising remedies for the 
former. But at least it was more aware of the general 
movement than it had ever been, and the summer brought 
it sufficient reason to hold up its hands. 

Financially the year opened with the " cold fit " which 
not unnaturally followed the company-promoting booms 
of the past year or two. After three years of its new exist- 
ence Allsopp's brewery was in difficulties, and a share- 
holders' committee was appointed in February ; the 
committee decided that there had been no misrepresenta- 
tion in the prospectus, but a large body of shareholders 
adhered to their opinion that the goodwill had been greatly 
over-estimated. In any case the policy followed in the 
flotation, of placing all the ordinary and preference stock 
on the market, had thrown a heavy burden on the profit- 
making, which owing to increased agency charges from the 
severity of competition had failed to respond to the need. 
But apart from the rights and wrongs of the case, the 
mere fact of the discontent of shareholders was enough to 
cool the speculative mood. One of the principal business 
activities of the year was the advance in the amalgama- 
tion of the banking companies. The Capital and Counties, 
the Birmingham and Midland, the Union, and Prescott 
Dimsdale's carried out several absorptions in 1890 ; 
Williams Deacon's combined with the Manchester and 
Salford Bank ; and Lloyd's Bank, which had taken up 
several local banks in Worcestershire and Warwickshire 
in 1889, was growing into a widespread business. The 
reasons for these amalgamations were, no doubt, sound 

1890] A STORMY ENDING 265 

enough. The shortage of gold made the maintenance of a 
number of separate bank reserves increasingly difficult, 
while the advance of wealth depending more and more 
upon paper exchanges made the burden of disjointed re- 
sponsibilities much heavier. Moreover one bank depended 
so much upon the solvency of another that the separate 
stability of each had almost ceased to exist, and large 
amalgamations hardly altered the reality of the situation. 
At the same time they undoubtedly lessened the elasticity 
of local trade. Personal character ceased to be valid 
security for loans and overdrafts when the old local 
bankers, with their individual knowledge of all their 
clients, were replaced by distant directors whose lack of 
such knowledge compelled them to confine their loan 
business within hard and fast rules. Many a merchant 
and tradesman, who could once have pulled through a 
difficult time by the help of a banker who knew his recti- 
tude, fails under the present system, which demands more 
formal securities. Meanwhile, the gold difficulty brought 
about a vigorous revival of bimetallism, and of discussion 
of the true relation between money and gold and prices. 
The Rand continued to enlarge its output, reaching in 
this year 43,000 oz. a month. But the Treasury proposals 
to deal with the coinage still hung fire, and made no 
appearance in Parliament this year. 

The London County Council, if late in the field of muni- 
cipal enterprise, distinguished itself in its very first year of 
existence by a policy new in conception. This became 
famous in private Bill controversy a little later as " the 
betterment principle." The principle, for which oppor- 
tunity was given by the necessity confronting the council 
of making up the deficiencies of the Metropolitan Board 
of Works in the sphere of street improvements, was that 
enhancements of the value of premises, such as might 
accrue from better frontages, better means of approach, 
and better surroundings, should go by rights not to the 

266 A STORMY ENDING [1890 

owner, who had done nothing to bring about the new 
conditions, but to the public body, which had done all. 
The principle was an old one in America, but there the 
enhancement of value was paid down by the owner in 
a lump sum : the London County Council proposed to 
make it a tax on the premises. The idea was at once as- 
sailed, the Duke of Argyll being its most prominent critic ; 
and it appeared that not the least drawback to the scheme 
was going to be its distortion of the English tongue. 
" Betterment " was bad enough ; but the duke did worse 
when he wrote that the tax was illogical and unjust because 
the " goodment " of a house in a small street was no more 
due to the owner or occupier than the " betterment " 
of a house in a big new street. Other critics followed with 
a further atrocity of language, arguing that if " better- 
ment " applied to some houses, " worsement " might be 
claimed against a municipal authority by the owners of 
premises unfavourably affected by the diversion of traffic 
to new streets, or by tradesmen compelled to move else- 
where. The opponents of the scheme as a whole treated 
the affair as one of the property market ; the council's 
experts, notably Sir Thomas Farrer, took the higher and 
less disputable line that a public authority had a right of 
taxation, and, as street improvements cost money, taxation 
should fall to a special extent on those benefited by the 
expenditure. An attempt, however, to introduce the 
principle in the Strand Improvement Bill, promoted by 
the council this year for pulling down Holywell Street 
and opening up the " bottle-neck " of the Strand at that 
point, failed ; the clause was thrown out by the House 
of Commons Committee, chiefly owing to the objectors' 
arguments that the council made no estimate of the 
amount of " betterment," and that the definition of the 
principle and the limitations of its application were 

Before the session opened, one of thef heroes of the 

1890] A STORMY ENDING 267 

Irish conflict had passed from the scene. On 19th January 
J. G. Biggar, the inventor of obstruction, died. On 22nd 
April 1875 he had first baffled the House of Commons, 
holding back an important debate by the simple process 
of reading enormous extracts from volumes bearing more 
or less remotely on the subject, and adding brief 
comments of his own. Later on he invented the more 
subtle method of endlessly moving the Chairman out of 
the Chair in Committee. His name stood for fifteen years 
of constant fear of parliamentary paralysis. 

Hardly had the House met in February when the 
Report of the Parnell Commission was published. 1 Lord 
Morley has given us a vivid picture of the members during 
a dull debate all poring over the Blue Book just put into 
their hands 2 ; but, hard as both sides tried, with cheap 

1 The chief findings of the commission were, briefly : 

(a) That the Invincibles were not a branch of the Land League, 
nor organised nor paid by the League ; nor did any of the Irish 
party associate with known Invincibles. The Pigott letters were 
all forgeries. Parnell and the rest of the party had no knowledge 
beforehand of the Phoenix Park murders and were not insincere 
in condemning them. 

(6) That there was no ground for the charge made by The Times 
that the leaders of the Land League based their scheme on a system 
of assassination, or, even in the case of the most dangerous 
language, intended to procure murder ; though such language did 
cause an excitable peasantry to carry out the Land League's laws 
even by assassination. 

(c) That the Land League leaders never denounced boycotting 
and intimidation, and never took any steps to assist the police in 
detecting crime. 

(rf) That there was ground for suspicion that Land League funds 
were used to compensate persons injured in the commission of 

(0) That the Irish Party funds had received large sums of money 
from the Irish National League of America, which was controlled 
by the Clan-na-Gael, the dynamiters' organisation. 

1 Life of Gladstone, iii. 408: 

268 A STORMY ENDING [1890 

annotated editions of the report, to whip up feeling on the 
subject, it cannot be said that outside the political world 
anyone cared very much for detailed decisions of the 
commission as to whether Parnell and his followers 
had in this, that, or the other way sanctioned or been 
encouraged by violence and the party of violence. The 
ordinary man's interest was only aroused when, in the 
debate on the report, a month later, Lord Randolph 
Churchill electrified everybody by roundly attacking the 
Conservative Government. He was at this time rather 
erratic in his political appearances, and the remonstrance 
which his constituents at Paddington addressed to him 
shows no little anxiety. 

Parnell himself was hardly ever seen during the session. 
Since his illness in 1886 he had grown more and more 
mysterious, and the piles of letters and telegrams awaiting 
him from time to time at the House of Commons were a 
strange spectacle. In his absence and in the uneasiness 
which his absence caused to those who knew the circum- 
stances the Irish party were faced with the necessity of 
making up their minds about what looked like a large in- 
stalment of Mr Chamberlain's alternative to Home Rule. 
Mr Balfour introduced in March an Irish Land Purchase 
Bill, setting up a scheme of voluntary transfer of owner- 
ship from landlord to tenant, purchase money being 
advanced to the latter from a Government loan at 2| 
per cent., the total amount being limited to thirty -tliree 
millions. At the same time Mr Balfour proposed to set 
up a Congested Districts Board, with power to create 
small holdings, and to promote migration within Ireland 
or emigration from it. 

Fortunately for the practically leaderless Irish members 
the two proposals were not pressed forward at the time. 
The House was engaged on other matters notably the 
Tithe Rent Charge Bill, which removed the duty of paying 
tithes from the occupier of land to the owner, and the 

1890] A STORMY ENDING 269 

Employers' Liability Bill ; amending Bills on this subject 
were, it was said, becoming a " hardy annual," but the 
need for this one was shown by the fact that on an average 
62 per cent, of the workmen's claims under existing Acts 
failed on some technical point. The present Bill made 
the great step of placing the liability entirely on the 
employer, removing sub-contractors out of the case. The 
work of the Royal Commission on the Housing of the Poor 
was finally met this year by a Housing of the Working 
Classes Act, which for twenty years was to govern the 
activity of public authorities in this direction. 

The final report of that commission had been a fairly 
drastic document. In the sphere of administration it 
recommended that a statutory duty should be laid upon 
local authorities of enforcing the powers they possessed in 
the matter of insanitary dwellings ; that medical officers 
of health should reside within, or within a mile of, their 
districts, and give their whole time to their work ; that 
the staffs of sanitary inspectors should be increased, 
and should consist of men acquainted with the principles 
of building construction ; that for London the Home 
Secretary should appoint special inspectors to report at 
once ; and that any vestries and district boards which 
had not made by-laws should be obliged to do so immedi- 
ately. Secondly, the report recommended the consolida- 
tion and amendment of existing Health and Housing Acts. 
Thirdly, in the direction of new proposals, it recommended 
that local authorities should have greater facilities for the 
erection of workmen's dwellings, and compulsory powers 
for purchase of land for dwellings ; that vacant sites should 
be rated at 4 per cent, of their selling value ; that com- 
pensation for land acquired under Housing Acts should be 
reduced to market value and no more ; that there should 
be a system of cheap Government loans for municipal 
housing schemes ; that railway companies destroying 
houses in extending their lines should be obliged to provide 

270 A STORMY ENDING [1890 

accommodation for the number of persons so displaced, 
and to provide it concurrently with the destruction of the 
original houses ; and that cheap transit to outlying districts 
should be facilitated, the Government initiating provision 
of cheap trains. There were also some recommendations 
as to easier methods of securing damages against owners 
of property by those who had suffered from the owners' 
neglect in sanitary matters ; as to small holdings ; and 
as to Mr Chamberlain's new doctrine of loans to enable 
workmen to become owners of their houses. 

The report was too sweeping to be embodied all at once 
in legislation, but the Act of this year was quite energetic. 
The first part re-enacted and consolidated earlier Acts, 
and the second part created new powers of buying up 
insanitary areas, demolishing unfit dwellings and ob- 
structive dwellings (so as to permit the opening of closed 
courts and culs-de-sac), and of erecting new houses on 
those sites. Power was given in this part of the Act to 
deal with smaller areas than those for which powers were 
given by the Artisans' Dwellings Act. 

Two Acts dealing with infectious diseases should also 
be mentioned. That of 1889 empowered local authorities 
to make by-laws for the notification of infectious diseases 
by the head of the family concerned and by the doctor 
attending the case. That of 1890 gave powers for stopping 
the sale of milk from dairies notified as infectious, and for 
undertaking the disinfection of houses. To some Con- 
servatives all this social legislation seemed excessive, and 
again the Liberal Unionist influence was blamed. Even 
those who were not of this mind felt that Parliament was 
overloading itself. Its real difficulty, however, lay in 
none of these things, but in a second attempt to create a 
policy of extinguishing public-house licences with payment 
of compensation. Mr Goschen in the Budget proposed 
to allot a sum raised by extra duties on beer and spirits 
to the local authorities. The ground was prepared by 

1890] A STORMY ENDING 271 

a return of licensed houses, showing that the proportion 
of them to population ranged in county districts from 
2-2 per thousand inhabitants, in Cornwall, Middlesex, 
Northumberland, Surrey and the West Riding, to 7-9 
per thousand in Cambridgeshire ; and in boroughs from 
1-6 per thousand in Jarrow to 7-6 per thousand in 
Canterbury and 10 per thousand in St Pancras. The 
statistics had many curious features, but the whole 
subject was fought out again on the broad question of 
whether a licence was really and actually an annual thing, 
or included a genuine presumptive value. 

It happened that at the moment a suit was in progress 
which brought the question to the proof of law the 
famous case of Sharp v. Wakefield. It was a case in which 
the renewal of a licence had been refused point-blank by 
licensing authorities on the evidence of the police, and 
the licence-holder based a claim for compensation on the 
argument that, though a licence was nominally only 
given for a year, it carried implicitly the expectation of 
renewal, since without that no one would spend money 
on a public-house, or have any interest in maintaining it 
decently. The brewers (who were of course behind the 
case) had made a tactical mistake. They had chosen to 
fight on the claim of a public-house remote from any 
ordinary population that might need it, far from police 
supervision, and suspected of being a haunt of poachers 
and bad characters. Consequently when the Court of 
Appeal upheld the magistrates' decision as in the end 
the House of Lords also upheld it the party which refused 
to recognise any right to compensation had been given a 
handsome weapon. Mr Gladstone pronounced that the 
annual power of non-renewal was " the one healthy spot 
in our licensing law " ; and the Liberal Unionist wing of 
the Ministerial party refused to admit the compensation 
principle except subject to a ten years' time-limit, after 
which the absolute power of non -renewal should hold 

272 A STORMY ENDING [1890 

good. 1 The net result was that the Government dropped 
the whole proposal ; but, as the extra tax on liquor was 
established, the money had to be used. It was therefore 
attached to technical education. In the latter subject 
the year was not without importance. The Act of 1889 
had proved to be obscure on certain points, and a 
conference between local authorities and the education 
authorities was held to clear up doubts. It had the great 
result of establishing the right of local authorities to grant 
scholarships, which infinitely increased the value of the Act. 
An Act securing this point, and also definitely including 
manual instruction under the terms of the earlier Act, was 
passed in 1891. It is not without interest to note that 
the London School Board caused an outcry in 1890 by 
providing pianos for its schoolgirls. 

With the summer came the sequel to the dock 
strike of 1889 a stirring among wage-earners. Profit- 
sharing schemes succeeded to conciliation board projects 
as the most widely discussed methods of meeting 
the new unrest, but the workmen, as they had 
already shown in the South Metropolitan Gas Strike, 
were extremely suspicious of any weakening of their 
attachment to their unions. The Labour Electoral As- 
sociation, which had been founded a year or two earlier, 
was beginning to receive the adherence of the large trade 
unions, and this political tendency puzzled the kindly 
people who had been telling the workman that Parliament 
was useless to him. The association opened a special 
fund to support candidatures of labouring men for Par- 
liament ; and the idea of paying salaries to members of 
Parliament, which was brought forward from time to time 
during these years, received additional argument. Dis- 
missal of the idea took usually the grimly brief form that 
few young men of parts and ambition would be tempted 

1 See a statement by Mr W. H. Smith in The Times, 24th June 

1890] A STORMY ENDING 273 

by 400 a year, and no working men were worth it. As 
May day approached, it looked as if the old struggle with 
the police might revive ; the socialist bodies arranged 
a demonstration, which the police prohibited ; but the 
affair proved in the end too small to fight over. Two 
books just at this period were the means of conveying 
socialist visions to the public outside the socialist 
ranks. Bellamy's Looking Backward, a presentation of 
the phalanstere system in its logical completeness, was 
published in 1889 ; and William Morris's News from 
Nowhere, a charming fiction of an England without capital- 
ists or landlords, pervaded with the golden afternoon light 
of the wide meadows of the Upper Thames, where he had 
made his home, was published in 1890. But neither book 
had any relation to the working activities of the moment. 
John Burns was extraordinarily energetic, addressing 
meetings of workmen almost every day, and enlarging the 
number of trade unions ; while Ben Tillett, his colleague 
of the year before, was upholding the need for keeping 
all the unions national in scope, so that in any given 
case not the local men alone would have to be dealt 
with. Women workers were also on the way to vigorous 
combination. Certain associations of ladies in various 
towns for the care of friendless girls had been developing 
under pressure of the growing concern for working women 
into local unions of women workers. In 1890 the Bir- 
mingham Union held a conference at which papers on 
various subjects connected with the industries of women 
and girls were read. It was an important conference, 
because it led to a succession of others, from which in the 
end the National Union of Women Workers arose. In one 
of the hardest of women's trades, that of chain-making, 
there was an endeavour to set up a trade union. Un- 
fortunately the Sweating Committee was ending in dis- 
appointment. On the Conservative as well as the Liberal 
side there was some indignation when it was announced in 

274 A STORMY ENDING [1890 

the summer of 1889 that the committee was postponing 
its report ; and when, early in 1890, Lord Dunraven dis- 
charged himself from the chairmanship, because his draft 
report had been unanimously rejected, there was little 
hope of light or help from the inquiry. The report was 
a cautious document, which made no proposals for legisla- 
tion. The state of public feeling, however, prevented the 
disappearance of the subject, now that it had been 
effectively raised. 

At the Trade Union Congress of the year Burns 
triumphed in the mingling of the new men with the old 
in the labour movement, the new men being wholly and 
solely working men ; and in the fact that in 1889 forty- 
five new unions had been established, and seventy -two 
more in the nine months of 1890. The total income of 
trade unions in 1890 was very nearly a million pounds. 
The gospel of the Eight Hours' Day largely occupied the 
congress ; and even prominent politicians like Mr Courtney 
and Mr Morley nay, Mr Gladstone himself had to weigh 
very seriously their opposition to it. 

Strikes were frequent. Boot and shoe makers, brick 
makers, railway porters and quay labourers, Liverpool 
dock labourers and bargemen were all out in April ; and 
ironworkers and colliers in South Wales during the summer. 
Such manifestations aroused much more than purely local 
anxiety. But at the height of that anxiety, relief was 
given by an event which could only be taken as vastly 
diverting the police struck ! They demanded in June 
more wages and allowances, and although a month later 
their strike had collapsed to an affair concerning some 
forty men, the story had roused such hilarious excitement 
that Life Guards had to be called up to disperse the mob 
which hung about Bow Street. Less amusing, but equally 
shocking to the official mind, was a strike of postmen 
which followed. In this the principle of Union labour 
in a Government department was at stake, and the 

1890] A STORMY ENDING 275 

authorities only won a temporary victory, after great 
inconvenience to the public, by the dismissal of 400 men. 
Though probably without relation to labour troubles, 
an outbreak of insubordination in the Grenadier Guards 
added to the respectable citizen's indignation at the general 
spirit of revolt ; the matter was at any rate serious enough 
to cause the second battalion of the regiment to be ordered 
to Bermuda as a punishment. It must be added that the 
new Trade Unionism showed that it had no small control 
of its men in the case of a strike at some of the London 
docks in September, concerned with the unloading of 
grain ships. Tom Mann and the Dockers' Union ordered 
the men back to work, and they went. It is interesting 
to find the British Association at its meeting this year 
diagnosing the social condition very shrewdly ; in a dis- 
cussion on " Some Typical Economic Fallacies of Social 
Reform " its members gave the first signs of knowledge 
that the humaneness which had usurped the place of 
political economy was not the force of the future ; and 
there was an astonishing tendency to accept the doctrine 
that the problem of socialism was only one of degree, and 
not of kind. One of the greatest of the older political 
economists, Professor Thorold Rogers, was just at the end 
of his life ; he died on 13th October. 

At one moment in the summer foreign policy laid hold 
of the public mind in such a way as it rarely does in England 
during peaceful times. In June an agreement between 
Great Britain and Germany was published, by which, in 
return for recognition of our status in various parts of 
Africa, we ceded Heligoland. The cession was violently 
criticised, and there was a momentary recrudescence of 
Jingoism. The young Kaiser was not popular in England, 
as his father had been. He was regarded as over-ambitious, 
impatient, self-willed ; and his acquiescence in Bismarck's 
retirement from the Imperial Chancellorship this year was 
thought to have been rather too ready. The British public, 

276 A STORMY ENDING [1890 

crediting the Kaiser with self-assertion and dreams of 
German expansion, was in no mood for cessions of territory. 
However, Lord Salisbury's reputation survived the 
momentary outburst. Our profit from the German agree- 
ment was the establishment of our interest in Zanzibar, 
Somaliland, and Uganda. When the Anglo-Portuguese 
agreement followed, later in the year, it was remarked 
that Africa was now " pretty well parcelled out." It was 
not quite. Trouble was brewing in the Transvaal, where 
some Europeans at Johannesburg in March pulled down 
the flag of the Republic, and three arrests were made for 
high treason. A reminder that the filling up of the map 
of Africa did not necessarily mean the end of adventure was 
afforded by the life-story of Sir Richard Burton, who died 
in October. Whatever might happen to the map, Arabs 
remained on the earth, and a man who could live with 
them, as Burton had lived, need never want for romance. 
Virile, emphatic, impatient, uncontrolled, Burton was 
one of the most picturesque figures of his day. Outside 
Arab life and literature his great interest was swordsman- 
ship ; and he was the first to stand out in England against 
the over-elaboration of style in fencing. 

Among the domestic interests of the year the most 
remarkable was a wave of self -consciousness in regard to 
British art. The aesthetes had themselves to blame, but 
they must have shuddered when they saw the newly aroused 
sensibility of England expressing itself as a John Bull 
kind of appreciativeness. In one art this new sort of 
Jingoism did not advance very far. The announcement 
in 1890 that Sir Arthur Sullivan was engaged in the com- 
position of grand opera on the subject of Ivanhoe marked 
one of the least happy moments of British art. But 
British painting was a different affair, and it had recently 
followed a trend genuinely national. There was therefore 
much enthusiasm behind the proposal to found a 
National Gallery of British Art ; the movement first 

1890] A STORMY ENDING 277 

acquired force in March and April 1890 ; and in June 
Mr Henry Tate, a millionaire sugar merchant, offered his 
collection of modern British pictures, fifty-one in number, 
as the nucleus for the Gallery. But he had stipulations 
to make. He maintained that the authorities of the 
National Gallery were not to be trusted with a new collec- 
tion of pictures, since they kept buried out of sight in the 
basement of the Gallery a large number of paintings, 
especially the Turner water-colours, which ought to be in 
the public view. He would therefore only offer his pictures 
on the understanding that satisfactory arrangements 
should be made for keeping them on exhibition. This was 
bound to mean a new building ; and the whole project 
was for the time held back by negotiations between the 
Government and Mr Tate. 

The Church of England mourned in 1890 the loss of Dr 
Liddon, who died in September. His preaching in St 
Paul's was one of the most powerful instruments in that 
restoration of the cathedral to a living agency in the life 
of London, which had been proceeding under Dean Church. 
But, great as his preaching had been, his influence upon 
young men at Oxford and in London was greater. A little 
earlier the Roman Catholics in England had lost Cardinal 
Newman, who died in August. He had always been rather 
a great convert than a great Roman Catholic. The story 
of his spiritual struggle was so intimately the story of 
many souls of his time, whether the goal reached had been 
the same for them or not, that he became a figure almost 
of legend. For the greater part of his life he failed to 
find favour at the Vatican for any of his plans or his ideas 
for extending the Roman Catholic influence in England. 
Manning appeared to suspect him of Liberalising tendencies 
of thought. But late in his life a change came at the 
Vatican, and from Leo XIII. Newman received the 
cardinal's haf; Manning, who had received his from 
Pius IX., may have felt that Newman's was easily earned. 

278 A STORMY ENDING [1890 

The national concern, which had expressed itself so 
largely in 1889, about the increase of betting, showed 
no diminution. It was augmented by the very natural 
readiness to point an obvious moral, from the fact that, 
while on the one hand the workmen were fighting for 
more wages and more control of their lives, they were 
at the same time spending more money on gambling, 
and more of their hours in a barren form of excite- 
ment. The real secret of the spread of betting on 
horse races was rightly discerned to be the originating 
of the " Starting Price " idea. It was impossible for 
bookmakers not on the course itself, and therefore unaware 
of the run of the betting at the last moment, to make a 
profitable business of betting until there was some fixed 
form of the odds to be laid. The invention of a starting 
price provided this. The chief sporting papers arranged 
that their reporters at races should establish, just before 
each race started, the most commonly offered odds in the 
ring, and these were telegraphed to London as the starting 
prices of the horses named. Then all that the backer had 
to do was to pay his money to the bookmaker, the under- 
standing being that he took these odds. The publication of 
the odds by the evening papers completed the setting up of 
a regular racing system for those who need never go near a 
race. Norwas this the only form of popular gambling. Prize 
competitions in newspapers, which had already attracted 
the attention of the police, were enormously enlarged by 
the violent rivalry of two penny weekly papers just at this 
time. The proprietors, or their advisers, made the ingeni- 
ous discovery that all the advantages of a lottery namely, 
the temptation of an enormous prize, drawing so many 
small sums that handsome profit would still be left could 
be gained by a penny publication with this extra ad- 
vantage, that the sale of tickets was the sale of the paper. 
A prize of several hundred pounds, a freehold house and 
garden, even of "l a week for life," sounded magnificent; 

1890] A STORMY ENDING 279 

but hundreds of thousands of sixpences would cover the 
cost several times over. A bald lottery being illegal, 
prizes were offered for some competition easy enough to 
make hundreds of thousands of persons enter for it. But 
as the early efforts of this kind were so easy that the 
selection of a winner had to depend upon pure chance, 
the authorities had ground for action under the Lottery 
Acts, and the papers concerned took alarm. Not, how- 
ever, before the main popular demand for amusement 
had been attracted into this new channel. Outdoor pur- 
suits took one or two new turns. In 1890 golf had 
become so popular that for the first time it seemed to 
challenge the supremacy of lawn tennis ; golf clubs rather 
than tennis racquets were the smart thing to carry on a 
Saturday afternoon. " Safety " bicycles too were making 
their way fast. They had been invented in Coventry 
in 1885, but had not at first displaced the high machine. 
Now they were beginning to be seen everywhere. In 
regard to more passing interests of the ordinary man 
it may be mentioned that the famous forty days' fast of 
Succi was successfully completed this year, and drew crowds 
to the Westminster Aquarium, where Succi sat in a glass- 
sided room, melancholy and nervous-looking, and smoked 
cigarettes. An old craze of the early eighties was revived 
by Dr Nansen's plans for reaching the North Pole ; he 
proposed to give up the earlier plan of establishing the ship 
in winter quarters somewhere out of the ice-pack, and to 
shorten the sledge-marching, by having the ship built with 
a V-shaped hull, so that she could be taken right into the 
ice-pack, and would, when the pack closed, be merely lifted 
up and wedged, instead of being crushed. A glance at 
other scientific interests shows us that the telephone was 
by now so greatly improved that lines were opened this year 
from London to Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. 
The frozen meat trade, too, had issued finally from its 
probation ; the New Zealand traffic, which in 1882 had 

280 A STORMY ENDING [1890 

amounted to 19,000 in value, touched in 1890 a million 
sterling. Nor was the meat market the only gainer. 
Whereas there had formerly been no direct service of 
steamers to New Zealand, there were in 1890 ten mail 
steamers and twenty-two cargo steamers all on the New 
Zealand service, and all buying coal and stores there as 
well as their cargoes. 

The year is also memorable in science as having seen the 
publication of Dr Koch's theory of tuberculosis and its 
remedy ; in the closing months of the year a most vigorous 
discussion of it took place in the British medical profession. 
The clinical use of hypnotism attracted some attention ; 
experiments at the Salpetriere Hospital in Paris were 
being watched carefully. 

The year had a strange and wild ending. Early in 
November the contests of employers and workmen 
threatened to rise into a savage war in the shipping trade. 
Everyone was expecting at this time a labour war on 
a great scale railways, mines or shipping seemed most 
likely to provide the battlefield ; and shipping gave the 
first menace. The establishment of unions had spread to 
it, and under J. H. Wilson the Seamen's and Firemen's 
Union had been set up. Inevitably there had followed an 
objection on the part of union men to working with 
non-union men ; the microcosm of a ship could not but 
intensify differences. The shipowners not only expressed 
their feelings with more violence than most employers, 
asserting that they would " lay up " all British shipping 
at need, but also immediately formed a combination of 
their own, the Shipping Federation. For the time being 
neither side fired the first shot ; but a dock strike at 
Southampton, issuing in disorder and riotousness, which 
had been markedly absent from the London strike, kept 
uneasiness very much alive. 

Then the affair of the Stanley expedition to relieve 
Emin broke out into that bitter controversy which had long 

1890] A STORMY ENDING 281 

been vaguely in the air. Stanley had come to England in 
the summer, and gave public lectures to crowded audiences. 
For a time he was the lion of the season. Then his 
popularity cooled a little on the discovery that he did 
not at all take the ordinary Briton's view of Germany's 
ambitions. Emin Pasha, after having been rescued, had 
actually entered the German service ; and Stanley not 
only failed to see any fault in this, but even revealed a wish 
to behold German enterprise at work in different parts of 
Africa. People remembered that the fate of his rearguard 
still called for explanation. In November he made the 
first move himself by attacking his critics ; he accused 
Major Barttelot and his companion, Mr Jameson, of having 
resorted] to cannibalism and cruelty to the natives round 
their camp. His critics replied by a plain charge against 
him of carelessness and gross mismanagement, amounting 
to sheer abandonment of his rearguard, in order to push 
on to the personal glory of relieving Emin. 

Stanley had published an account of his journey under 
the title of In Darkest Africa. At the time when the 
quarrel arose England was being stirred by a book 
which, cleverly taking a cue from this title, was called 
In Darkest England. It was written by General Booth, 
the head of the Salvation Army, and was an extreme pre- 
sentation of that misery of poverty and sweating in great 
towns which had had so many presentations of late years. 
Booth's plea was that the Salvation Army was able to reach 
lower strata than any other organisation had attempted 
to reach ; and he wrote the book as an appeal to the 
country to provide him with so large a sum of money that 
his Army could set on foot what amounted to permanent 
relief works, refuges, night shelters, and a whole network 
of institutions. He threw over all economic considera- 
tions, to a degree which even the most ardent reformer 
had as yet shrunk from ; his relief work had already been 
accused of doing more harm than good by undercutting the 

282 A STORMY ENDING [1890 

market. His present challenge was instantly taken up ; 
prominent people pointed out his ignorance of the work 
that was already being done, his failure to guarantee 
adequate administration of the funds he asked for, and 
the danger of diverting to one object, and that largely 
untried, the money which at present was flowing in 
many useful channels. His statistics were disputed too. 
But before the year closed his fund had reached 90,000. 
The scheme was unfortunately launched. It had small 
chance of public attention against the two shattering events 
of November 1890. When men opened their newspapers 
on the 14th all the mysteriousness of ParnelPs recent life, 
all the hints and suggestions which had gathered round his 
first refusal to bring The Times to trial, fused to a thunder- 
clap in the report of the divorce case of O'Shea v. O'Shea 
and Parnell. The case was undefended. Parliament, as 
it happened, had met again this month, and by a stroke of 
Fate Irish business was the work before the House. The 
Irish Land Purchase Bill, postponed from the summer, 
and the Irish Relief Bill, setting up the Congested Districts 
Board, were resumed. The Irish party was not in the 
House to discuss them ; it was sitting upstairs, in Com- 
mittee Room 15, which those days rendered famous, with 
Parnell in the chair presiding, sometimes cynically, some- 
times tyrannously, over discussions of his retention of the 
leadership. His constant absences from London had led 
to a confusion at the beginning of these sittings. Mr 
Gladstone, acting on the unmistakable sense of the Liberal 
party organisations, had intimated that, while Parnell 
remained leader, he could not himself lead a party whose 
chief work, as long as he led it, would be Home Rule ; 
therefore either Parnell must resign, or he must. This 
intimation could not be conveyed to Parnell immediately ; 
it was the moment of one of his disappearances. It could 
hardly be conveyed first to anyone but him ; and so it 
fell out that the Irish party met, and expressed confidence 

1890] A STORMY ENDING 283 

in him as leader, before Mr Gladstone's attitude was known. 
The party had met far too hastily, and their resolution was 
rather an expression of their feelings towards British re- 
ception of the disastrous news than a considered decision. 
No party largely Roman Catholic, and representing a 
country preponderantly Roman Catholic, could have 
remained under a Protestant leader in such circumstances. 
But the resolution delivered them into ParnelPs hands. 
He fought his ground in a way which was the final revela- 
tion of his contempt for public opinion in England. 
He refused sympathetic and influential advice to retire 
for the moment, and trust to the storm blowing over. He 
drove his party into such a position that, in order to avoid 
the ultimate reproof to him, the majority, forty-four in 
number, at last walked out of the committee-room. Then 
he dashed over to Ireland, suppressed an issue of United 
Ireland which would have been fatal to his position, and 
made speeches in Dublin as if he were still leader. He 
fairly took his opponents' breath away. Parliament only 
sat for a fortnight, and in that time the two Irish Bills 
were passed. The effect of the O'Shea case on the de- 
meanour of the House was extraordinary. All spirit 
seemed to have gone from it, and it was spoken of as " The 
Long-faced Parliament." The affair was such a complete 
disaster, and was ending in such a desperate struggle, that 
the men not immediately concerned felt it like a cloud 
upon them. 

In consequence Parliament had perhaps too little atten- 
tion to spare for the other shattering event. On 15th 
November financial London was shaken to its foundations 
by the news that the great banking firm of Barings had 
come to grief, its difficulty being attributed to imprudent 
commitments for public loans and private enterprises in 
Argentina and Uruguay. The one hopeful element in the 
situation, to which tottering credit clung, was that the 
announcement of the disaster was not made until it could 

284 A STORMY ENDING [1890 

be accompanied by intimations that the Bank of England 
had the firm's affairs in hand, with a guarantee of twelve 
millions to meet the liabilities. Everyone trusted that 
this meant that in the last resort the Treasury would be 
behind the bank. As a matter of fact it was not. Mr 
Goschen had been summoned to town by the governor of 
the bank directly the danger became known, but he had 
seen no course to pursue except to throw the responsibility 
of meeting the crisis entirely on the City. He could not 
run the risk of pledging the Treasury to a guarantee, and 
then perhaps having to defend in Parliament the use of 
public money in support of a private firm. Yet he was 
much distressed, and some of the visits he paid to financiers 
in the City did not encourage him ; he found most of them 
near panic. But the governor of the Bank of England 
rose to the occasion, and gathered sober men around him. 
He borrowed a million and a half in gold from Russia, 
Rothschilds' secured the assistance of the Bank of France 
to the extent of three millions, and the bankers and 
merchants of London guaranteed seven millions. Thus the 
Bank of England was able, when the announcement of 
Barings' situation had to be made, to convey reassurances. 
The firm's liabilities were about twenty millions, and the 
whole object at stake was to give time for the realisation 
of assets without such a panic as would have depreciated 
them beyond remedy. This the guarantee fund did. 
Immediate liquidation was staved off, and the firm was 
quietly reconstructed as a limited liability company, and 
registered on 21st November. Consols dropped to 98, 
but that was a small penalty to pay. If the shock had 
added to the storminess of events, it had at least been 
prevented from ending the year in chaos, 



ONE of the most baffling difficulties of the Home 
Rule question was that, while on the one hand it 
provided an ideal capable of calling out all that was 
high-minded and devoted in the Liberal forces, it was at the 
same time so entirely a question by itself, and so detachable 
from all normal social advance in Great Britain, that a 
party committed to it was not thereby committed to any- 
thing else. More Mr Gladstone was an old man, and the 
enormous plan for Irish self-government had not been 
constructed until he was old. The result was that he 
frankly remained in leadership for that single purpose 
only, so that the Liberal party stood committed to a policy 
which not merely did not include, but positively precluded, 
other activities. The downfall of Parnell, disturbing as it 
was, did not affect the Liberal party's position altogether 
adversely. No harm was ever done to an ideal by events 
which force its supporters to uphold its righteousness 
beyond and above all personal failings. It was of little con- 
cern in the end that opponents of Home Rule should now 
be saying that the O'Shea divorce case amounted morally to 
a reversing of the Parnell Commission's Report. But that 
Parnell should have refused the Liberal party's tactical 
decisions, that Home Rule should no longer be the united 
demand of a homogeneous force in Parliament, but a 
bone of contention between two groups, who were cap- 
turing and recapturing one another's newspapers, one 
another's platforms, one another's seats in Parliament 
all this was of serious concern. The cause was further 


weakened by statements which Parnell was making, to 
the effect that he and his party had never really liked 
the Home Rule Bill of 1886, and only accepted it on Mr 
Gladstone's threat of resignation. The Unionists were 
able to gain much ground by pointing out what a serious 
difference it made if the Irish party had not genuinely 
accepted the Bill of 1886, and the Liberal party were not 
really in accord with their supposed allies. From the 
Liberal point of view the worst of these recriminations 
was that, since Mr Gladstone remained where he had been 
for Home Rule, and Home Rule alone, these wrangles 
demanded the best brains of the Liberal party to overrule 
them. This in turn meant that the party was not taking 
its share in other affairs, and had too little attention for 
social reform. Trade Unionism was left to fight its 
battles alone. Whether, if circumstances had been other 
than they were, the development of the labour movement 
would have been different whether any politicians would 
have been ready at this time to see that the purely social 
consideration of wages and labour conditions was now as 
impossible as the old purely economic consideration, and 
that the problem was becoming political must remain 
an open question. At any rate one example on each side 
in politics can be quoted as showing a perception of the 
new conditions. Mr Courtney, speaking in February of 
this year, remarked upon the change in labour aspirations 
from an inclination towards isolated socialistic experiments 
to a conviction that the goal must be reached by legislation. 
Lord Dunraven, a little later, was expressing himself in 
favour of a State Department of Industry. 

That industrial conditions formed a very large and in- 
sistent question was admitted in the establishment in 1891 
of a Royal Commission on Labour Problems. Wage dis- 
putes were for the moment in the background. Trade 
union leaders believed in the power of organised labour to 
mend many flaws in the industrial system, which employers 


had so far failed to cure. Unemployment and irregularity 
of employment came, they thought, largely from the fact 
that labour was almost as helpless as raw material ; a 
master could pour both alike into his factory at high speed 
in a time of demand, and leave both alike outside when the 
demand was slack. Fully organised labour, on the other 
hand, could secure that an employer's prudence for his 
own profits should necessarily imply prudence also for his 
employees' wages and conditions. Consequently, practic- 
ally all the labour struggles of this time were rather on 
questions either of working conditions or of the recogni- 
tion of unions than on questions of wages. There were 
not a few of such struggles. In January the miners in the 
Silksworth Colliery struck on a demand that the "deputies " 
should be union men. The managers refused to have 
union men in that position, and for two months the fight 
went on. It was complicated by the decision of the 
managers to evict men on strike from cottages owned by 
the colliery, a course which caused a sympathetic strike 
to spread in pits which had taken no part in the original 
dispute. The settlement reached in March was that while 
the men would not insist on the " deputies " being union 
men, the managers would not forbid them to be. A rail- 
way strike in Scotland, affecting the Glasgow & South 
Western Railway, the North British Railway, and the 
Caledonian Railway turned on complaints of overwork 
and heavy overtime exactions. It failed, because although 
the business community agreed that the men were over- 
worked they would give no support to the strike. The 
companies held out against receiving any representatives 
of the men's union as such, and against entering on any 
negotiations before the men returned to work. At Cardiff 
the Seamen's and Firemen's Union struck against the issue 
by the shipping firms of a " ticket " which insisted on 
union men not refusing to work with non-union men. 
This also failed, partly because the dockers, stevedores, 


and coal -porters were not in alliance with the seamen and 
firemen. In London tailors struck on three points 
better workshops, a uniform " time-log " (the existing 
system of payment being a complicated one) and the 
abolition of partnership in a piece of work ; the masters 
conceded the first and third points, reserving the second 
for consideration, and the men returned to work after a 
ten days' strike distinguished by the elaboration of its 
picketing. In June there was an omnibus strike in 
London, and again the picketing was good hardly a 'bus 
was on the streets for a week. Overwork was the chief 
complaint, and the men won a seventy-hours week, a 
minimum wage of six-and-sixpence a day for drivers and 
five shillings a day for conductors, the right to a day off 
in the week at their own charges, and an understanding that 
if the companies' dividends rose there would be an advance 
in wages. An interesting effort of the year, apart from 
strikes, was the attempt made by the Dockers' Union, which 
was also a General Labourers' Union, to bring into its ranks 
the agricultural labourer. The idea was that a pooling of 
interests might lead to an improvement of conditions in 
the country an increase of allotments, as well as advances 
in wages and that this, in turn, would react on the dockers' 
conditions, by diminishing the flocking of rural labour to 
the towns, where it became for the most part casual labour 
at the dock gates. 

It was no wonder that Trade Unionism of this nature 
roused fresh opposition. It was denounced as an attempt 
to set up a new monopoly, and the special point of attack 
was the policy adopted by Trade Unionists of intimating 
to employers their intention not to work with non-union 
men. This was described as " intimidation," and was 
actually held to be so in a county court judgment delivered 
this year, but overridden by a decision of the Queen's 
Bench in July. Other opponents argued that the attempt 
to set up a monopoly would have a bad effect on prices ; 


that, for instance, higher wages in trades which were 
absolutely necessary to the public, such as shipping, 
docks, railways and collieries, would only mean that less 
money would be spent in other directions in which there 
was no compulsion for the public to spend, so that wages 
in the cotton and other such industries would decrease. 
A more curious criticism was that, if men by success- 
ful development of their unions forced their wages 
up, women's wages would suffer, because, being outside 
unions, they would get no work unless they consented to 
take a poor wage. On the whole the first feeling in the 
labour world when it became known that the Government 
contemplated setting up a Royal Commission was one of 
anxiety ; it seemed probable that the object of the com- 
mission, whether acknowledged or not, would be a 
restriction of the rights of combination. The commission 
was appointed in April. It was said at the time that the 
Prince of Wales, who had been deeply interested in all the 
sidelights on life in great towns which the Housing Com- 
mission had produced, would have liked to serve on this 
new commission, but had been persuaded that it would 
be unwise. The members of the commission were : Lord 
Hartington, Lord Derby, Sir M. Hicks Beach, Sir John 
Gorst, Mr Mundella, Mr Courtney, Sir H. Fowler, Mr Jesse 
Collings, Mr Gerald Balfour, Mr T. Burt and Mr W. 
Abraham, from the two Houses of Parliament ; Mr 
Harland, of the Belfast shipbuilding firm, Mr Bolton of 
the Caledonian Railway, Sir F. Pollock, Professor of 
Jurisprudence at Oxford, Professor Marshall, Professor 
of Political Economy at Cambridge, Sir W. Lewis, of the 
Cardiff Docks, Mr T. H. Ismay, of the White Star Line, 
Mr David Dale, an ironmaster, Mr G. Livesey, managing 
director of the South Metropolitan Gas Works, Mr Tunstall, 
a cotton employer, and Mr Hewlett, managing director of 
the Wigan Coal and Iron Company for the masters of 
industry ; and for the men, J. Mawdsley, of the Operative 


Cotton Spinners, Tom Mann, of the Dockers' Union, 
E. Trow, of the Conciliation Board of the Iron and Steel 
Trades, H. Tait, of the Glasgow United Trades Council, 
S. Plimsoll, and M. Austin of the Irish Democratic Labour 
Federation. The reference to the commission was wide 
and simple ; it was " to inquire into questions affecting 
the relations between employers and employed and the 
conditions of labour, which have been raised during the 
recent trade disputes in the United Kingdom, and to report 
whether legislation, and if so what, could be directed to 
good ends." The commission divided itself into three 
groups ; Group A undertook inquiry into mining, iron- 
works, engineering, shipbuilding, and cognate industries. 
Group B undertook, roughly speaking, the transport 
industries ; and Group C undertook the textile and 
chemical industries, and building, and other miscellaneous 
trades. In the last group two women " sub-commis- 
sioners " were appointed late in the year to investigate 
the conditions of women's labour. The work was 
enormous, and it was difficult for the commissioners, 
in the mass of detailed complaints and petty vexations 
brought before them, to keep any general view of their 
task. But some main lines of Trade Union policy were 
prominent enough to provide landmarks. At the Trade 
Union Congress, for example, which now represented over 
a million and a quarter workmen, the most prominent 
subjects were an eight-hours day, and an amendment of the 
law of conspiracy so that technical conspiracy should only 
be if directed to an object criminal in itself, and intimida- 
tion should only consist in actual threats of violence. 
The plea for limitation of work, in particular, provided a 
rallying-point for the evidence of employers before the 

One of the strongest proofs of a prevailing unconscious- 
ness of the reality of the new forces at work is provided by 
the comments on the doings of the London County Council 


When the first council came into existence the comments 
even of Conservative organs were wholly favourable. So 
incredible had it been thought that the new social move- 
ment, the new labour forces, should actually issue in any 
administrative act. Barely twelve months later the 
tone had changed completely, and by 1891 hardly any- 
thing was too bad to say of the council. It proposed to 
set up bands in the parks, and was stormed at for wasting 
money on pastimes for the poor ; it proposed to purchase 
tramways, and to take over the London Fire Brigade, and 
was told that its career was a long succession of "ab- 
surdities which have humiliated London." Yet there was 
so little objection in principle to any of these proposals 
that the real offence of the council seemed to be that it 
proposed to do things for itself, instead of waiting to 
be given what the governing classes thought good for 
it. This was the worse offence, since these classes at the 
moment were in a liberal mood. The Conservative Ministry 
had set up County Government, they had passed a great 
Housing Act, and in 1891 they accomplished another of 
the tasks which the Liberal party had for years promised 
to undertake : they made elementary education free of 
charges. It was done by a simple process of adding ten 
shillings a year per pupil to the capitation grant. This sum 
was based on an average school fee of threepence per week. 
If any school charged more than that, it was at liberty to go 
on charging the difference. But in effect this was a Free 
Education Bill ; and so the Liberal party's committal to 
Home Rule was made still more exclusive of other interests 
by the removal of another traditional item of its pro- 
gramme. The Bill was not such as a Liberal Government 
would have introduced ; there would almost certainly 
have been some provision for increased public control over 
voluntary schools in a Liberal measure. 1 But in the dis- 
cussion of the Bill the Opposition were content not to 
1 See The Daily News, 24th April 1891. 


press that point. The Act came into operation in Sep- 
tember of this year. Mr Goschen had a sufficient surplus 
in his Budget to provide at once the half-year's cost of the 
change, so that there was no need to delay its introduction. 
He had also enough money at last to press through the 
Teform of the gold coinage which had been projected two 
years earlier. The Light Coinage Bill allotted a sum of 
400,000 to the cost of withdrawing light gold coins at 
their face value. Parcels of gold coin of not less than 100 
in value were to be received at the Bank of England with- 
out any light-weight deduction. It was decided that the 
average life of a sovereign before falling *' below the 
remedy " was twenty years, and that of a half-sovereign 
about ten years ; so that, if the South African gold supply 
proved to be as good as was said, the object of the Treasury 
would be in future not to allow gold coins to return from 
the bank into circulation after they had served for those 

The Factory Act of this year, though it had nothing 
to do with current labour movements, was an important 
piece of work. By setting up the local authorities as the 
inspecting power for sanitary purposes in connection with 
workshops, a position from which the appointment of 
factory inspectors in 1871 had deposed them, it created 
a dual supervision of industrial places, the inspectors being 
still charged with the supervision of hours of labour and 
age of employment ; the inspector and the local authority 
were put into a situation in which there was bound to be 
a good deal of intercommunication, with a chance of 
excellent results. 1 Provision was made for the Home 
Secretary to have power to enforce the law, in the case of 
inaction on the part of a local authority ; and workshops 
where adult men only were at work were brought under 
regulation. The Home Secretary was also given powers 
or certifying dangerous and unhealthy trades a provision 
1 Cf. The Factory System, by R. W. Cooke-Taylor, p. 121. 


which year after year proved more fruitful of good ; and 
an echo, somewhat feeble, but important, of the increased 
concern for sweated industries was to be found in the 
clause requiring every occupier of a workshop, and every 
contractor for work, to keep lists of their outworkers. 
The same kind of influence too may be seen in the provision 
that all piece-workers in textile factories should be supplied 
with information to enable them to understand their scale 
of payment. These regulations were, however, the work 
of the social conscience, and in the tradition of the last 
twenty years, rather than in the spirit of the coming time. 
That spirit may perhaps be detected in the restoration of 
important work to the local authorities, through which, 
as we have seen, the socialists hoped to operate most 
effectively. The new Act paid no attention to one popular 
demand : it appointed no women inspectors. 

Parliament was prorogued at the beginning of August, 
which gave a comfortable sense that the national affairs 
were at last returning to a normal high-water mark. The 
London season had not been a very cheerful one. Influenza, 
which had hitherto been only a winter scourge, attacked 
London in May, and as a summer fever it caused nervous- 
ness. Dinner-parties failed, because people were really 
afraid of infection ; the after-effects of the disease seemed 
to be worse than they had been in previous years. In ad- 
dition to this, the notorious " Baccarat scandal " had 
damped society's spirits, because when the name of a very 
great personage, almost the highest in the land and quite 
the highest in active social life, was brought into the case, 
there was an uneasy feeling that society had better tread 
gently for the moment. It was pretty generally known 
before the case came to trial that the Prince of Wales was 
concerned in it. Sir William Gordon Gumming brought 
an action for slander against Mr and Mrs Arthur Wilson 
of Tranby Croft, and against others members of a house- 
party there, for having said that he cheated at cards. The 


Prince was called as a witness. He appeared in the box, 
the packed court gazed breathlessly, counsel in the case 
were appropriately submissive and respectful, and the law 
emerged from the ordeal of a wholly unprecedented event 
without a stain on its reputation for inimitable bland- 
ness. Outside the courts the results of the case were 
rather more lasting. Even those little inclined to notice 
such gossip as had long been current about the Prince of 
Wales felt the difference made by such a public revelation 
that " his ' set ' was a baccarat ' set.' " 1 

Materially, as well as morally, the season was damped. 
Though the Baring disaster had been staved off, the effect 
of the strain was visible in a general contraction of financial 
activity. Flotations decreased ; the Bankers' Clearing House 
returns fell 12 J per cent. The Baring crisis had raised 
again in Mr Goschen's mind the question of the country's 
gold reserves ; and he took up once more the suggestion 
of banknotes of small values. He let it be known that 
he was ready to consider authorising the Bank of England 
to issue twenty-five millions in one-pound notes against a 
reserve four-fifths in gold and one-fifth in Consols. But the 
hint was not favourably taken ; and the banks pursued 
their own policy of entering into amalgamations ; Parr's in 
1891 became one of the prominent absorbing banks. In 
spite of the financial stringency the general purchasing 
power of the people remained good, as far as official figures 
showed. But there was no enterprise in amusements, no 
cheerful craze. When a new music hall in London, the 
Tivoli, was put up to auction, the reserve was not reached ; 
however, as the bidding rose to 100,000 there must have 
been sufficient belief in the popular support for such places. 
In the autumn the gambling mania received an en- 
couragement which must have seemed deplorable to those 
who were trying to wean the workman from betting. This 
was the year of the famous " man that broke the bank at 
1 The Times, loth June 1891: 


Monte Carlo," and he was hymned on every barrel organ. 
He was a Mr Wells, and he first rose to fame by winning 
20,000 at roulette within a week. When his luck at 
that table stopped he turned to trente et quarante, and in a 
few stakes made 6400 more. He was playing for months, 
and his success gave rise to a great discussion of gambling 
" systems." In November his net winnings were said to be 
30,000, and occasionally he " broke " a table in half-an- 
hour from the opening of play. His career relieved a 
somewhat dull year. 

Hardly even in science is any notable event to be found. 
Electric light had made at last its final stride ; and it was 
said in 1891 that the number of incandescent lamps in 
London was greater than in any one of the five largest 
cities of America. One or two events of engineering 
history may be recorded. In August the last of the 
old broad-gauge lines of the Great Western Railway were 
taken up, and replaced by lines of the standard gauge. 
At the beginning of the year naval experts were greatly 
interested by a system of tubular boilers which Yarrow's 
had fitted in a torpedo boat built for the Argentine navy ; 
the firm had been for three years experimenting with them 
as a rapid means of getting up steam, and also, it was 
hoped, a safer method of keeping up the high pressures 
demanded ; but this Argentine boat was the first practical 
trial of the system. The Manchester Ship Canal was 
well advanced ; in June water was admitted to the section 
from Ellesmere Port to Eastham, and a second section, 
making a total of eleven miles, was open by the end of 
September. The first attempt to bring the Manchester, 
Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway now the Great Central 
Railway to London was also made, but the private Bill 
for the purpose was rejected by the Select Committee of 
the House of Commons. 

We come this year for the first time in our period upon 
a really popular demand in fiction. The field since 1880 had 


been held by writers more or Jess established, more or less 
conscientious artists Meredith, Hardy and Henry James ; 
Besant and Mrs Humphry Ward ; Edna Lyall, Mrs Lynn 
Linton, Miss Braddon and Wilkie Collins. But when we 
read in a review of a new book by Mr Rudyard Kipling, 
The Light that Failed, a protest against " his apparent 
power the affectation of barbarity," and the remark that 
" the public read him, so his dissatisfied critics must wait 
to be justified by an unborn generation," we recognise 
that here was a demand wholly beyond the normal guides 
of literary taste. It was a new impulse, a new British 
self-consciousness. The story told of battles of the 
Egyptian campaigns, and although the phrase had yet 
to be invented (by that same author) the idea of " the 
white man's burden " had been initiated. It had an 
impulsion of a practical kind this year in the first annual 
meeting in December of the British South Africa Company, 
which in a halo of romance was beginning its pioneer work 
north of the Transvaal. Mr Cecil Rhodes was already a 
figure of note in the London world, a figure lacking in 
social flexibility, positive, greatly given to argument, 
but wielding a large fortune, tireless, not afraid of the 
social sin of being a bore with his schemes of advancing 
British frontiers in the land of his adoption. He had by 
now made the British South Africa Company so import- 
ant a body that the whole question of the position of 
chartered companies was being discussed. Some of 
those who most strongly approved of the existence of such 
companies thought that they should be set up by Act of 
Parliament rather than by Royal Charter, and should be 
compelled to keep their commercial and their administra- 
tive accounts separately. The informality of this method 
of governing uncivilised races was naturally popular with 
a generation which, through Mr Kipling's Indian stories, 
was learning to see itself as peculiarly gifted for the 
shouldering of responsibility in remote places of the earth. 


Drama, as well as literature, has an important date in 
1891. During the autumn Mr J. T. Grein set up the organ- 
isation which he called " The Independent Theatre." He 
asked for two hundred subscribers of 2, 10s. each, for the 
production of plays of serious interest, which, from lack of 
elements of popular appeal, were unlikely ever to appear in 
the English theatres of the time. The theatrical adver- 
tisements in newspapers of the eighties had been certainly 
barren reading. At the head of the profession Irving was 
playing chiefly Shakespeare, varying it with somewhat 
disastrous experiments in Tennyson's verse plays, and with 
frankly money-making productions of popular pieces, like 
Wills's Charles I., or The Belk, or The Corsican Brothers. 
Other leading actors confined themselves to old-fashioned 
comedies, such as Money and Caste, to new melodramas, 
to farces, generally taken from French originals. The 
Bancrofts, Charles Wyndham, John Hare, William Terriss, 
Toole and Edward Terry rang their changes on 
a paltry list. Mr Grein's object was principally to 
produce plays by Ibsen, and the Independent Theatre 
did in fact first introduce those plays to British audiences. 
But the venture was regarded askance by most of the 
London world. To many, Ibsen stood for an unhealthy 
analysis of subjects better left unanalysed ; to others he 
stood for a foreign impropriety, different from the old 
kind, but still not to be encouraged ; to the advanced 
aesthetes he stood for a deplorable solemnity, very hamper- 
ing to the gracefulness of life. But a sufficient appeal 
could be made to the middle-class culture, which somewhat 
heavily pursued the difficult life of appreciative enjoyment, 
and the Independent Theatre might perhaps have lasted 
longer if its efforts had not revealed the fact that the field 
of drama it affected was not a very wide one. 

Educated taste at this time was much engrossed with 
"applied art." Furniture, wall-papers, hangings were 
all subjected to anxious, even over-anxious, canons of 


beauty ; the great period of the " hand-made " was being 
ushered in with rather barbaric chairs and tables, and 
silver implements speckled with little hammer-marks. 
In 1891 William Morris added printing to his many ac- 
complishments, and set up the Kelmscott Press, working 
with founts of type designed by himself, after a laborious 
study of early models of typography. 

During the parliamentary recess the Liberal party 
made up its mind to overhaul its electoral banners. 
How dilapidated they were we have already seen. That 
the great leader should have devoted himself exclusively 
to one overmastering purpose would have been less serious 
if he had not been at the same time, by belonging to a much 
earlier generation, incapable of estimating new conditions 
in domestic politics. There is no evidence that Mr 
Gladstone in these years took any interest in the new 
forces and the new mind of labour. He had made Mr 
Broadhurst a member of his short-lived Government in 
1886, but Mr Broadhurst was not, in the official view, a 
Labour representative ; he was only a Liberal with an 
unusual and interesting career. A Member of Parliament 
of a democratic turn, who was not a Liberal in name as 
well as outlook, would have had no meaning whatever for 
Mr Gladstone. But it might have been thought that this 
disability on Mr Gladstone's part was rendered less serious 
by his very frank and constantly repeated declaration 
that he had now only one object in political life. Did not 
this lay upon other important members of the party the 
duty of keeping the party in the forefront of advanced 
thought on social questions ? In their defence it must 
be said, first, that Mr Gladstone was apt to be masterful 
in regard to the formation of public opinion by his 
colleagues. Moreover, most of those colleagues went back 
to the days when schemes of social reform were usually 
coupled with the name of Mr Chamberlain, and regarded as 
impracticable Radicalism. Therefore when Mr Chamber- 


lain took himself and his programme elsewhere no heat was 
left among the leaders in which new ideas might germinate. 
Consequently, when the approach of the next General 
Election became imminent the party managers had to 
take that most futile step, the construction not the 
selection of a programme of legislation. County Govern- 
ment, Factory Legislation, Employers' Liability, and even 
Free Education had been taken away. What could be 
put in their place ? One prominent item, indeed, of Mr 
Chamberlain's programme had not been even nibbled at 
by his new friends Disestablishment of the Church. But 
Mr Gladstone would never lead a general assault on the 
Church he loved and magnified, and any wholesale measure 
of disestablishment must commit him at least to counten- 
ancing accusations against that Church. But he had shown 
in the case of the Irish Church that he could make dis- 
tinctions. Statistics and local grievances couldj plausibly 
be used to make distinctions in the case of the Church of 
England in Wales, and perhaps also in that of the Presby- 
terian Church in Scotland. The disestablishment of those 
two Churches therefore was a possible item in the pro- 
gramme. Next, a backward glance over the career of the 
Conservative Government discovered its weakest moment 
in the licensing proposals which it had tried to attach to 
the duties of the new Local Governments. 1 The decision 
in Sharp v. Wakefield had given the sanction of the 
highest legal tribunals to the opponents of those proposals. 
Here then was another possible party advantage. In a 
non-party way the legal decision had already had its 
effect. No less Conservative a person than Sir Michael 
Hicks Beach had announced at the licensing sessions in 
his part of the country Fairford, in Gloucestershire 
that the licensing magistrates would be ready to hear 
testimony as to any public-house which was felt to be 
unnecessary ; in other words, that they were prepared to 
1 See pp. 230, 270. 


enforce the purely annual existence of a licence, by refusing 
it on grounds other than those of misconduct. He also 
revealed a less direct result of recent controversies in an 
announcement that in future managers of "tied" houses, 
when asking for renewal of licences, must produce their 
agreements with brewers a sign that public opinion was 
not at the moment friendly to the idea of licence-holders 
as the mere nominees of brewers. But stronger stuff was 
needed for a programme in vacua than for processes of 
administration. The idea of Local Veto had already been 
made familiar by the apostles of total abstinence ; it was 
now seen to combine the question of licensing with the 
new spirit of Local Government in a way that qualified 
it for a prominent place in party politics, and it became 
another element in the programme. Extension of the 
Local Government principle by district and parish councils 
with considerable powers for acquiring land for allotments, 
erecting cottages, and establishing small holdings ; electoral 
reforms, including the abolition of plural voting, the pay- 
ment of members, and State payment of returning officers' 
expenses ; land reforms, with the abolition of primogeni- 
ture and entail, and the taxation of land values ; and lastly, 
reform of the House of Lords these miscellaneous pro- 
posals completed the party outfit. 

Mr Gladstone was to speak at Newcastle on 2nd 
October. He accepted his conventional duty, and 
enunciated the doctrinaire list which had been evolved 
from the minds of party organisers. It fell flat. No one 
had any difficulty in deciding that Mr Gladstone cared 
about none of the speech, until he came to Home Rule. 1 
The mass of Liberal agents saw the Church roused against 
them on Disestablishment, the brewers against them on 
Local Veto ; and no real force roused for them. The Pro- 
gramme could only command the habitual and traditional 

1 In Morley's Life of Gladstone (iii. 462) the whole speech is 
dismissed with a dozen lines of distant reference. 


Liberals, and such enthusiasm as might exist would be 
personal enthusiasm for Mr Gladstone. He after all was 
their beacon, and the programme only a disagreeable 
necessity. Home Rule was a reality ; the other pro- 
posals were not. Nor was a minor factor in the speech, 
which was Mr Gladstone's own. He insisted on 
an early evacuation of Egypt. On the old lines of 
policy in regard to Egypt he was justified. Early in this 
year a battle fought by Sir Francis Grenfell at Tokar, in 
which Osman Digna was totally defeated, put the finishing 
touch to that restoration of confidence and security 
which had been decided upon as the governing con- 
sideration after the fall of Khartoum. Three battles 
had now had the result of establishing the frontier and 
relieving it from dervish pressure, and also of giving con- 
fidence to the Egyptian soldiers and making them into a 
real army. The battle before Suakin in 1888 has been 
mentioned. 1 In 1889 Grenfell defeated at Toski a 
threatening force under a warrior named Wad El Nejumi, 
who was believed by those qualified to know to be the 
really great soldier of the Mahdi's and the Khalifa's power. 2 
The defeat of Osman Digna completed this stage of our 
work in Egypt ; and Mr Gladstone therefore had some 
ground for reintroducing the question of evacuation. But 
of recent years temper in England had changed. The new 
sentiment for the British burden of responsibility was 
in the air ; Mr Kipling was inflaming recollections of the 
Soudan campaigns ; and Egypt under Baring and Grenfell 
was a satisfactory subject for national contemplation. 
Mr Gladstone had better have left it alone. 

Even in that portion of his speech which dealt with 
Home Rule some observers thought that Mr Gladstone 
was troubled and embarrassed. He was indeed distressed 
by the spectacle of Parnell fighting, in a way he thought 

1 See p. 241. 

1 Lord Cromer's Modern Egypt, ii. 64, 65. 


mad, for control in Irish affairs. Bye-elections had occurred 
in Ireland, and Parnell had put up candidates against 
other Home Rule candidates ; they had been beaten 
disastrously, but he would not give in. On his marriage 
with the lady who had been Mrs O'Shea the last powerful 
force in Ireland, which had not yet declared against him, 
The Freeman's Journal, submitted to the Roman Catholic 
view, and threw him over. He was to and fro between 
England and Ireland almost every week ; each time his 
return showed him more haggard, more hoarse. Suddenly, 
a few days after the Newcastle speech, it was announced 
that he was lying desperately ill of pneumonia in his house 
at Brighton, having taken to his bed on his latest return 
from Ireland. The next day it was announced that he was 
dead. He was only in his forty-sixth year. The desperate 
strain and effort of the last twelve months of his life, the 
struggle, not against England directly, but against his 
late colleagues, seemed to the normal English mind to be 
aptly summed up by The St James's Gazette, in a quotation 
from the scene of Brian de Bois Guilbert's death in Ivanhoe : 
" Unscathed by the lance of his enemy, he had died a 
victim to his own contending passions." Some time 
afterwards, when the Irish party became once more 
united under one leader, the enduring work of Parnell 
could be perceived. He had roused Ireland to a 
single enthusiasm, which, though centred in himself 
while he yet led the party, was so burningly alive that it 
could centre finally in the party as a whole. His tactical 
work failed, because it depended too much on his own cast 
of mind ; it was a balancing of policies which no one else 
could successfully imitate. But his conception of his work, 
his unwearying refusal to present the Home Rule case as 
other than a demand, built up a spirit in Ireland which 
neither fell with him nor died with him. Not by the party 
as he left it, any more than by the party as he found it, 
could he be judged ; but by the crystalline compactness 


with which for twenty years past the main Irish question 
has been kept free of all the legislation that was once 
supposed to be alternative to Home Rule. 

On other benches too Parliament was to see gaps, when 
it met. On 6th October died Mr W. H. Smith, a more 
perfect type of the bourgeois than England has since pro- 
duced. Methodical, capable, not without solid dignity, he 
left a stronger tradition behind him than his contemporaries 
expected. His upbringing made him less sensitive than 
his almost as solid predecessor, Stafford Northcote ; but 
he also suffered less from the goading of Lord Randolph 
Churchill, who had in the later eighties begun to fall 
out of parliamentary life, and in this year left England 
for a hunting tour in South Africa. Another great figure 
passed out of the House of Commons upon the death, late 
in December, of the Duke of Devonshire, Lord Hartington 
succeeding to the title. Had he remained in the Commons 
he would have had to face the strongest pressure to identify 
himself finally with the Conservative party by taking the 
leadership there ; as it was, he was able once more to move 
as deliberately as he always liked to move. 

The lapse of a year since the inception of the Salvation 
Army scheme, known as the Darkest England scheme, 
provided an occasion for further criticism of it. It ap- 
peared that the year's expenditure of 17,000 had been 
taken from the capital sum subscribed ; and the work had 
not been regulated on the basis of an income from the sum. 
General Booth had asked for much more, and was pro- 
ceeding on the assumption that the larger sum was assured. 
He was considering a method of assisted emigration to 
South Africa, and here also was somewhat hampered by 
fairly direct intimations that the class of persons he pro- 
posed to send would not be welcomed in the Colonies, or 
in the British South Africa territories. His scheme, 
instead of being launched complete, had grown into 
little more than an enlargement of the Army's charit- 


able work, which might or might not be prolonged, accord- 
ing as its power of appeal to the public was maintained. 
Meanwhile the Army was in the midst of some of the worst 
and some of the last of its street battles. It had been 
received with violent resentment in Eastbourne, a town 
which prided itself upon its manners and its social amenities. 
Every Sunday the Salvation Army fought with rowdies in 
the streets, and another kind of hostility confronted it 
in an attempt by the town authority to enforce a section 
of a local Improvement Act against street processions. 
The warfare raged undiminished through the winter. 

London at the same time saw a revival of police action 
against socialist meetings. In Chelsea, Hoxton, Peckham, 
Southwark, Mile End, and Wanstead meetings of the 
Social Democratic Federation were broken up, and speakers 
were arrested. But this singling out of one form of 
meeting among the many that were held every Sunday had 
now no public opinion to back it. The winter was passing 
without any serious strikes, or grievous distress. But the 
insistence with which unemployment had been kept in 
the eye of London, and the new spirit of investigation 
of labour problems, had secured a patient and genuine 
interest for a great work which at this time was being 
published, Mr Charles Booth's Life and Labour in London. 
Mr Booth had himself been led on by his investigations 
into pauperism to propose, in a paper read before the 
Statistical Society in December, a system of Old Age 
Pensions of five shillings a week, which would not, in his 
opinion, be enough to discourage thrift, but enough to 
keep the deserving aged poor from the workhouse. It is 
characteristic of the Liberal paralysis of the time that, 
within twenty-four hours of that paper being read, Mr 
Chamberlain was adopting the subject as an urgent piece 
of domestic reform, and that no prominent Liberal seized 
upon it as a more vital appeal to the country than anything 
in the Newcastle Programme. 



THE year in which " Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay " over- 
ran the streets of our towns may well give pause 
to the observer of English habits. The tasteless 
and irrepressible air was at the time a universal annoyance ; 
it appears now almost a portent. It was such an affront to 
English respectability as had never yet been administered, 
not only because it flaunted a vision of a high-kicking 
dancer on a music-hall stage, but because the very sound 
of the tune was jeering, as well as ludicrous. The sudden 
absurd jolt of its high note became a grin at the gait and 
carriage of a respectable man. Its penetrating shrillness 
warned people that nothing was going to be taken seri- 
ously. The street boy whistled it ; the junior clerk sang 
it in suburban drawing-rooms ; the gay dog went to see 
Lottie Collins dance it ; even the cashier and the junior 
partner thought it. It was essentially different from any 
popular song which had from time to time ruled the pave- 
ment. The wildest of comic songs hitherto had been 
something said, which might appeal to yo . individually 
as funny, or be dismissed as nonsense. This one said 
nothing ; it was a mere conspiracy against gravity of 
deportment, which every errand boy challenged you to 
join. It had no individual interest whatever ; it was the 
voice of the crowd asserting itself. That overriding of 
the British self-consciousness of behaviour which had 
begun and had been resented in the Blue Ribbon Army 
and the Salvation Army, and had been forced forward by 
circumstances in the struggles of the unemployed, and the 
u 305 


more flamboyant side of socialist street meetings, now 
invaded the mass of the careless. Cheerful blatancy was 
as ready to parade the streets as profound conviction was ; 
and the year of " Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay " contained the 
germ of the " Mafficker." The origin of the tune was 
gravely discussed in a law suit concerning copyright in it ; 
it came from America, where it was said to have sprung 
either from lower-class negroes, or from disreputable 
haunts in St Louis. Certainly in its peculiarly idiotic 
quality of sound it has never been equalled. 

To say that a street tune substantially modified the 
course of politics would be, in spite of Fletcher of Saltoun, 
to treat popular melody rather too gravely. Yet there 
certainly was at this time a tendency on the part of the 
plain average man, without much interest in politics or 
social reform, to make a little more of his own interests, 
and rather less of the labour revolt, the state of Ireland, 
the blessings of education, than he had been obliged to 
make in recent years. He advanced his own amusements 
with vigour. Golf attained in this year so much of a 
position in England that for the first time the Amateur 
Championship competition was held outside Scotland ; 
it took place in May at Sandwich. The popularity of the 
game was felt to be " bewilderingly sudden." * Cycling 
had been receiving an immense impetus from the invention 
of the safety bicycle, which, besides being far handier, and 
easier to ride, than the old high bicycle, had rendered 
cycling practicable for women. In its evening hours half 
England was crazily intent upon " missing word " com- 
petitions ; later in the year, when it was decided at Bow 
Street that these were lotteries, it appeared in the evidence 
that the coupons sent in by competitors ran into hundreds 
of thousands every week. The world of art was diverted 
by the publication of Whistler's Gentle Art of Making 
Enemies ; but found some more serious interests in the 
1 The Times, i^ih May 1892. 


successful issue of the negotiations with Mr Tate for the 
foundation of the National Gallery of British Art, and in a 
considerable protest against the growing disfigurement of 
towns by sky signs, and of country districts by advertise- 
ment boards. In literature the publication of Tess of 
the D'Urbervilles awoke a livelier interest in modern 
novelists ; and the work of William Watson encouraged 
people to believe that the death of Browning and Tennyson 
would not leave the nation without a poet of the grand 
scale. Tennyson's death occurred in October of this 
year. Even the heavy ground of the drama was stirred ; 
comedies by Oscar Wilde and J. M. Barrie blew over it a 
breath of wit and native high spirits such as England had 
not been known to possess. Finally, Paderewski's first 
appearances in London created a wild enthusiasm which, 
if at the time exaggerated, and often lacking in genuine 
appreciation, did nevertheless make music a subject of 
common interest, and prepared the way for a removal of 
the reproach that England as a nation cared nothing for it. 
The year opened with sorrow. A form of influenza, apt 
to lead on to pneumonia, was again prevalent during the 
winter months ; and on 14th January the Duke of Clarence, 
eldest son of the Prince of Wales, died from it. On the 
same day Cardinal Manning died. He had filled for a 
long time with tact, but with unflinching assertion, a 
difficult position in a society which could not admit the 
claim to princely rank, which he could not forgo. Every 
opportunity of position and power was to him a means of 
advancing the ends of his Church. His secession from 
the Church of England had been at the time more alarming 
than that of Newman, because he was a greater preacher 
and a greater administrator. His intervention in the dock 
strike of 1889 was part of an increased activity during his 
later years in the cause of reform at home. This activity 
has been attributed to the decline of his influence at 
Rome, which had, under Pius IX., been considerable ; 


with Leo XIII. he was less in sympathy. 1 The Free 
Churches also lost this year a very prominent figure by 
the death of the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon. His preaching at 
the great building in Newington, known as the Metropolitan 
Tabernacle, had for many years attracted enormous crowds 
to the place ; and his sermons, being always reprinted in 
pamphlet form, probably reached a wider public than was 
in the compass of any other popular preacher. Homely, 
positive, charged with an amazing vigour of appeal and of 
denunciation, and delivered with marvellously effective 
control of the voice, these sermons were profoundly satis- 
fying to Free Churchmen. They did not at this time look 
for such direct political quality in their preachers as the 
later fashion demanded. 

The Church of England was involved in the final bout 
of controversy with the Agnostics on Biblical inspiration. 
From the staid pages of monthly reviews the battle had 
spread to the newspapers ; and the Duke of Argyll, Mr 
Gladstone, and Professor Huxley were solemnly debating 
whether men should or should not believe in God, since 
the Book of Genesis shows no knowledge of the existence 
of kangaroos, and the story of Creation is demonstrably 
unsound in the matter of the greater saurians. This kind 
of controversy was doomed by the approach of a new 
spirit, which, if in many respects too light-hearted, was 
sane in its inclination to think that a Church stood or fell 
by other tests than those of reason, just as it had learned 
to feel that a social structure stood or fell by other tests 
than those of strictly logical principles. 

One of the most striking instances of this spirit was 
provided now by the second election for the London County 
Council, which took place in March. All the criticism 
which the council's work had brought upon it from Con- 
servatives, from irritable rich householders, from any who 
disliked and feared democratic administration, was con- 
1 See Mr G. W. E. Russell's Collections and Recollections, chap. iv. 


centrated in a great attack during the early weeks of 1892. 
The strange result was that resentment of carping criticism 
was expressed not only by the advanced side of the council, 
but by the whole body of members. Even the leaders of 
the Moderate party complained of grumblings and growl- 
ings which were meant to " crab " the council, and might 
have the effect of frightening useful men from joining 
it. It was a Moderate member, too, who went so far in 
his admiration for the council as to say that it had in 
London so great and important a charge that it ought 
to have a permanent organisation, somewhat on the scale of 
Government departments. This was exactly the kind of 
large view of the council's duties which fussy ratepayers 
detested. At any rate, the attacks proved futile, and the 
new body elected this year had almost as large a Pro- 
gressive majority as the original council had had. It made 
the first attempt to run trams along the Embankment, 
but failed to obtain powers from Parliament. Late in the 
year it accomplished an advanced piece of administration 
by setting up a works department of its own, and thus 
giving itself a strong hand against the contractors for 
public works. This was distinctly the most socialistic 
step that any municipal authority had yet taken, and was 
on quite a different plane from the provision of public 
services, such as gas and water, which in their day had 
made stir enough. Discussion of the water-supply, which 
from time to time was a pressing subject in London, when 
a dry summer revealed the inadequacy of the Water 
Companies' services, arose this year in a new form. The 
Birmingham Corporation promoted a Bill for powers to 
obtain a water-supply from certain mountain valleys in 
Wales, at a cost of six millions. The question whether 
London did not need that particular source of supply was 
raised. But it was not a matter on which there was as yet 
any commanding force of public opinion, and Birmingham 
secured the right to the valleys. The water-supply of all 


large towns was becoming a more serious problem, not only 
from the perpetual increase of domestic demands, but from 
at least two other demands. One was the demand for 
public swimming baths and washhouses, and the other 
was the great extension of the use of lifts in big buildings. 
To take one example alone : in Birmingham the require- 
ments of water for the latter purpose had amounted to 
30,000 gallons daily, even in 1885, and by 1890 the amount 
had risen to 80,000 gallons. Another municipal interest 
of the year 1892 was the first instance of an electric 
tramway worked by a municipality. 1 At Blackpool the 
local authority took over the lines of tramway which had 
for some years been working on the conduit system. 
In this year Mrs Rylands, the widow of an immensely 
wealthy cotton-spinner, bought complete the famous 
Althorp Library, belonging to Lord Spencer, a library 
rich in every kind of treasure of book-collecting, and 
gave it to the citizens of Manchester. 

Early in the year events began to be coloured by the 
prospect of a parliamentary election. The Government, 
having been in office for six years, had come to the custom- 
ary time for a dissolution. The London County Council 
election was considered by the Liberal party organisers to 
be of good omen, and Liberal leaders talked County Council 
politics (Mr Gladstone even going so far as to suggest that 
the council might have control of the police), until the 
other side scoffed at them for " throwing Imperial questions 
into the background," though no one seemed very clear 
as to what Imperial questions there were at the moment. 
The advocacy of Old Age Pensions remained chiefly with 
the Conservatives, and was cautiously handled ; Mr 
Chamberlain had persuaded both Lord Salisbury and Mr 
Balfour that it was not a matter to be neglected, and they 
wrote letters supporting the idea of a contributory scheme 

1 See The Municipal Journal , 2nd September 1910 : article on 
the Jubilee of Trams. 


of pensions, in which the State would have no concern 
beyond the setting-up of the machinery. Liberals were 
critical, both of this and of more general schemes of 
industrial insurance, which had been brought into the 
political atmosphere of the moment by the recent estab- 
lishment of the German system of workmen's insurance. 
Allotments again provided matter for speech-making, and 
here, too, with the Act of 1887 to their credit, Government 
speakers took a high line. Mr Chamberlain asserted 
that 100,000 labourers now had allotments ; and the 
Duke of Devonshire, going as usual to the root of the 
matter, even when the root was rather deep digging 
for a noble landlord, advised his party, besides making 
efforts to increase the effectiveness of the Allotments Act, 
not to neglect " those other and older objects of Liberal 
policy that were directed towards the freeing of the land 
from those encumbrances and difficulties under which our 
existing laws place it, as to inheritance and transfer." 
In the end this matter turned less to Conservative ad- 
vantage than was expected ; but in the preliminary rounds 
it was of more value to them than to Liberals. For a 
short time Woman Suffrage came to the front again. 
During the brief session before the dissolution Sir Albert 
Rollit introduced a Woman Suffrage Bill, and the question 
was discovered to have a new kind of vitality, when the 
platform at a meeting in St James's Hall in support of 
the Bill was stormed by a section who objected to the class 
limitations in the Bill. Hitherto Woman Suffrage measures 
had been so remote from practical politics that precise 
terms of enfranchisement had never been in dispute. The 
Bill was defeated in the House by 175 votes to 152. The 
most direct pronouncement on the position of labour from 
either great party came from Lord Randolph Churchill, 
who had returned to England in January. He upheld 
once more that form of democracy which consisted in 
trying to excise the middle class from the body politic. 


In a letter to a candidate he remarked that political 
power had passed from the landlords and the landed 
interest to the capitalist and the manufacturer, who made 
laws to suit themselves ; why, he asked, should not the 
Conservatives combine regulation of all conditions of labour 
by the State, under the guidance of the Labour vote, with 
" a foreign policy which sought to extend, by means of 
tariff reforms, over our colonies and even over other 
friendly states the area of profitable barter of produce ? " 
But Lord Randolph Churchill had already ceased to be a 
real force in politics, and newspapers no longer made much 
of any suggestions from him. Besides, Labour had com- 
pleted the turn of thought by which it had come back 
to faith in parliamentary work, and a determination to 
signalise in that, as well as in municipal affairs, the coming 
of the era of administration. Leaders on both sides had to 
take account of a new kind of Labour candidature. Mr 
Balfour took account of it, genuinely enough, by asserting 
that Liberals were always more interested in political 
reform than in social reform, and were therefore not the 
truest friends of labour. Mr Gladstone took account of 
it, not altogether happily, by deprecating independence 
of candidatures on the Labour side, as distinct from 
independence of action in Parliament ; in other words he 
preferred a member nominally Liberal, whose votes might 
occasionally go against the party, to a candidate whose 
poll must inevitably weaken the Liberal poll in any con- 
stituency. But indeed, whatever had been said on either 
side, the Labour candidatures would have remained de- 
tached from both. Two or three times in the spring and 
early summer the power of trade unions shook the country. 
Early in March there was a strike of colliers, and although 
it only affected one-third of the coalfields it caused a panic 
at the thought of the possible laying-idle of factories and 
furnaces everywhere. Fortunately that strike was over in 
a fortnight, though it was followed by a more serious one 


on the Durham coalfields, which lasted for twelve weeks. 
The two strikes were on wages conditions, the masters 
claiming the right, in view of the state of the market, to 
reduce wages by 13| per cent. The men won a point in 
getting the reduction put at 10 per cent. In each case 
the working of the Union organisation was of a kind to 
make Labour little inclined to rely on any party but itself. 

Amid all these political excursions Home Rule lost none 
of its party importance. Even in 1891 there had been 
lively discussion of whether Mr Gladstone should or should 
not be giving the country some details of the shape that 
Home Rule was then taking in his mind. One of the 
most prominent of the young men of his party, Mr Asquith, 
was pressing him on the point in public speeches. In 
1892 all that was known was that the retention of a con- 
siderable number of Irish members at Westminster had 
been decided upon. The Conservatives, besides boasting 
of the effect of their five years of " resolute government " 
of Ireland, introduced this year an Irish Local Government 
Bill. But it was not very seriously intended ; the elective 
nature of the bodies it set up was " bulwarked," as the 
ingenious phrase had it, in every possible way ; and the 
Bill in the end was dropped. It had never been worth 
while for Liberals to give it serious opposition. Yet they 
went to the country in the end with their own policy to the 
last degree vague in such vital points as the control of the 
police and the judiciary and the treatment of the land 
question ; and relied to no small extent upon attacking 
Mr Balfour's coercion, instead of explaining their own 

Coercion, indeed, and the comparative failure of the 
Allotments Act proved in the end the two most pointed 
weapons for the use of Liberals. The employment of 
them, combined with a certain weakness in Conservative, 
as distinct from Liberal Unionist, electoral organisation, 
provided the Tories' excuse for their defeat. Parliament 


was dissolved in June ; and although the Government had 
been losing seats continually at bye-elections, probably no 
one on the Liberal side, except Mr Gladstone, had expected 
a complete Liberal victory. He expressed the most ex- 
travagant anticipations. In an article published in The 
Nineteenth Century* he tried to persuade the country 
to expect a Liberal majority of at least 100, and to be 
prepared even for the possibility of a Tory "landslide." 
Not only was he wrong, but his disillusionment took 
a peculiarly personal turn ; his majority in Mid-Lothian, 
which had been over 3000 in 1885, and unassailed in 1886, 
fell to 690. In the country generally the only sign of 
opinion which could be called at all striking was the 
comparative failure of the Liberal Unionists. They had 
numbered 74 after the election of 1886 ; they numbered 
after the election of 1892 only 47 ; it seemed therefore 
that the attachment of the word " Liberal " to a position 
which did not include Home Rule was of no value as an 
appeal to electors ; and to that extent Home Rule became 
a more firmly settled point of Liberal policy. The new 
House, which assembled in August, contained 274 Liberals, 
81 Home Rulers (72 Anti-Parnellites and 9 Parnellites), 
268 Conservatives and 47 Liberal Unionists. This gave a 
Home Rule majority of 40. It was not a strong majority, 
but it was remarkable, if the purely political circumstances 
alone be considered, that there should have been such 
a majority at all. The Conservative Government had 
passed a very considerable quantity of democratic legisla- 
tion, and their record in that respect was far more satis- 
factory than that of the Liberal Government of 1880. 
One of their final pieces of work was a Shop Hours Act, 
prohibiting the employment of young persons under 
eighteen years of age for more than seventy-four hours 
in a week, including meal times. The Act required 
amendment later, as no provision was made in it for the 
1 September 1891. 


expenses of administering it. But it was another instance 
of the kind of social legislation of these five years. 
Much of this, no doubt, was due to Mr Chamberlain's 
influence. But Lord Salisbury was quite as much alive 
to democratic demands as anyone of his time, for all 
the cynicism with which he occasionally presented them 
to his party. He was probably more alive to them than 
Mr Gladstone, who never successfully separated in his mind 
constitutional reforms and social advancement. Lord 
Salisbury had but little patience with the rights of man or 
the rights of citizenship ; but he could see any given claim 
when it was presented to him apart from abstractions. 
Thus he had been able to move far in social reform since 
1886. But he could not move in the spirit of the rights 
of democracy, and this spirit was what most distinguished, 
next to his own legislation, the past six years. Herein we 
may find some part of the reason for the defeat of the 
Conservatives. Much though they had done, they held 
themselves capable of either giving or withholding ; and 
political Trade Unionism was bent upon breaking down 
that attitude. The fact that the Conservatives and 
Liberal Unionists failed to obtain against the Liberals 
alone a majority sufficient to counterbalance the Irish vote 
may be attributed firstly to the personal popularity of 
Mr Gladstone, and secondly to the new Trade Unionism. 
Incidentally new journalism had its share in the result. It 
is beyond doubt that The Star already wielded a formidable 
power ; and in the spring of 1892 it was followed by the 
establishment of two halfpenny morning papers, The 
Morning Herald and The Morning Leader, the latter being 
published by the proprietors of The Star. These were the 
first halfpenny morning papers in the kingdom, and they 
came in time to help sway the election. The working man 
could not yet return many members of his own class to 
Parliament. His sense that Tories, even when they had 
passed Factory Acts and a Local Government Act and a 


Free Education Act, were still Tories, could for the most 
part only express itself in voting for Liberals. This, with 
the persistent Liberalism of Scotland and Wales, just 
defeated the Unionists. Lord Salisbury did not im- 
mediately resign ; he was not, until a vote was taken, 
in a minority. But the vote came speedily. Mr Asquith 
moved a motion of No Confidence on 8th August, and it 
was carried by 350 votes to 310. Then Lord Salisbury 
resigned, and Mr Gladstone formed his fourth Government. 
It included some new men, Mr Asquith becoming Home 
Secretary, Sir H. H. Fowler, President of the Local Govern- 
ment Board, and Mr James Bryce, Chancellor of the Duchy 
of Lancaster. 

There were new men in the House also. In some 
respects newness was perhaps unnecessarily self-conscious. 
The brass band which accompanied Mr Keir Hardie to 
Westminster when he took his seat gave some offence ; his 
tweed cap hardly less. He was elected for South-West 
Ham ; and if the band and the cap were intended to 
announce that a Labour member had arrived who did not 
call himself a Liberal, expected no favour from Liberals, 
and did not want the patronising kindliness which had 
been shown to previous members from the ranks of labour- 
ing men, they were not altogether out of place. Mr John 
Burns, too, was returned to Parliament, sitting for 
Battersea. These two stood for a change in the political 
spirit of labour, not unlike that which Parnell had made in 
the case of Ireland. The other Labour members had, like 
Isaac Butt, accepted the forms of the House, and parlia- 
mentary action to them meant all the old forms ; they 
sat with the Liberals, and their hope lay in moving 
Liberals to action. 

Meanwhile outside the House advanced Labour men, 
in the same way as the Clan-na-Gael, had begun to despise 
parliamentarianism, and preferred to rely upon their own 
organisations acting directly on the social body. The 


Independent Labour Party proposed now, as Parnell had 
done, to have at its back all the energy of these outside 
forces, while employing parliamentary action. At the 
moment, indeed, the outside forces showed some tendency 
to become as detached from all normal and lawful methods 
of agitation as the Clan-na-Gael was. Some members of the 
Social Democratic Federation developed anarchist lean- 
ings, abolished the chairman at their conferences, and held 
frankly revolutionary meetings in Hyde Park. Four men 
were arrested at Walsall, for manufacturing bombs, and 
were sentenced to penal servitude. The publisher and 
proprietor of The Commonweal, the organ of socialism, 
were indicted for publishing a violent article, after this 
trial, denouncing the Home Secretary, the judge who tried 
the case, and the inspector of police who conducted it. 
They were sentenced to eighteen months' hard labour for 
incitement to murder. 

But on the whole the Labour forces outside Parliament 
were not likely to become as embarrassing to their leaders 
as Irish dynamiters had been to Parnell, and the Trade 
Union Congress in the autumn, while it showed the vigor- 
ous influence of the new movement, confined itself to an 
effective and not at all extravagant programme. It 
instructed its Parliamentary Committee to prepare a 
scheme for Independent Labour representation ; and it 
passed resolutions demanding an easier franchise qualifica- 
tion (of three months' residence, instead of a year's) ; the 
appointment as factory inspectors of men who had worked 
not less than five years in factories ; and an eight-hours 
day. The last demand received an unexpected encourage- 
ment from a vote in favour of it given by the cotton 
operatives' trade unions. This was a great surprise, 
because the cotton hands had never hitherto favoured the 
movement ; there were some who were inclined to attribute 
the vote less to conviction on a Trade Union theory than 
to a knowledge that there had been a good deal of over- 


production in the trade, and that an eight-hours day 
would be a form of short time convenient to the 

Unfortunately the winter in Lancashire was to pass under 
the shadow of something worse than short time. Affairs 
there had not been going well. The Ship Canal was 
proving disastrously costly ; instead of the eight and a 
half millions which were to have covered all the cost of 
construction and the purchase of other undertakings, ten 
millions had already been spent, and it seemed likely that 
fourteen millions would be swallowed before the work 
was finished. Then depressed trade turned the cotton- 
masters to thinking of bimetallism, and seeking in that 
a cure for ills that had no connection with currency. 
Finally at the beginning of November the masters decided 
that they must make a 5 per cent, reduction in wages, and 
the operatives struck, asking for a short -time agreement 
instead. Fifty or sixty thousand operatives were out 
before the first week of the strike was over. It was 
expected to be a tough fight, because for some years the 
alternatives of short time or lowered wages in a trade crisis 
had been in dispute between masters and men, and now 
had come to trial ; but that it would be a fight through 
the whole dark winter no one supposed. The strike 
added a sharper interest to the Conference of Women 
Workers at Bristol in November, which gave much of its 
time to the consideration and advocacy of womens' trade 
unions ; the Women's Trade Union Association, meeting 
about the same time, had to confess to a year of poor 
results, although great efforts had been made. 1 The 
Bristol Conference, a sequel to the Conference of the 
Birmingham Union of Women Workers in 1890, also 
pressed forward the question of the appointment of women 
factory inspectors ; and one of the first services of the 
new Liberal Government was to accede to this pressure, 
1 This was the Association's third yearly meeting. 


Mr Asquith as Home Secretary appointing several women 

Naturally the new Government also went to work early 
in Ireland. Mr Morley, who had again taken the Chief 
Secretaryship, set up in October a Royal Commission to 
investigate the conditions induced by the steady course 
of evictions under the recent " resolute government." 
The bitterness of feeling was seen in the assertions of 
landlords that they would have nothing to do with the 
commission. The first petulance passed away, and the work 
seemed likely to proceed fairly smoothly, when a breeze 
between the judge who presided over the commission and 
certain lawyers who appeared for landlords brought ill- 
feeling back again ; and in the end the landlords carried 
out their original threat, and declined to appear. Another 
matter in which the Ministry seized its new opportunities 
was the question of allotments. So much of their Social 
Reform programme had been taken from them that any 
point in which the arrogance of the other side might be 
pricked was of no small value. A return was at once 
prepared, and was published in August, showing how poor 
a thing the Allotments Act of 1887 had proved to be in the 
working. Instead of Mr Chamberlain's 100,000 men, it 
appeared from the returns that only 2891 tenants had been 
set up under the Act ; and the perfunctory character of 
the Act was shown by the discovery that only fifty-six 
rural sanitary authorities (the local bodies which ad- 
ministered the Act) had acquired land, while five hundred 
and eighteen authorities had taken no steps at all. 

There was some apprehension of distress as the winter 
approached. But in one sense the worst struggle of the 
unemployed appeared to be over ; they no longer had to 
rouse the comfortable world to the fact of their existence 
and their starvation. The new Home Secretary speedily 
removed one of the old grievances by opening Trafalgar 
Square to meetings on Sundays, Saturdays and Bank 


Holidays ; though he ventured on ground which might 
have been provocative when he spoke of the mischief 
of holding meetings there day after day the very thing 
which in extreme states of popular feeling was the most 
impressive means of action. But the concession was well 
received; all the energy of those who concerned them- 
selves with the problem of unemployment could go to 
trying to devise remedies, and the Local Government 
Board was urged again to relax the rigidities of the Poor 
Law, and to sanction some form of relief organisation. 
It was at last being admitted that a neglected state of 
unemployment brought a terrible train of consequences, in 
that it finally submerged workmen who could never recover 
from a fortnight's failure of work, and were thrust down 
into pauperism beyond remedy. The official response was 
not very fruitful, but it was some acknowledgment of 
the difficulty. A Royal Commission on the Poor Law was 
set up. It was less concerned with immediate labour 
problems than with the subject of Old Age Pensions, to 
which it was obvious that the new Government must pay 
attention. The commission's work gradually narrowed 
itself down to this, and no effort was made to devise modi- 
fications of the Poor Law to meet the case of the un- 
employed. The commission did not represent in any way 
the new labour forces ; John Burns declined to serve on it. 
The only Labour members were of the old school Joseph 
Arch, and Henry Broadhurst. Mr Chamberlain was one 
of the commissioners ; he had lately promulgated a 
" labour programme " which showed him for the first 
time out of real touch with those democratic movements 
which ten years before he had pre-eminently represented. 
He proposed to shorten hours of labour in mines and other 
dangerous employments ; to set up arbitration tribunals ; 
to found a system of contributory insurance for com- 
pensation for injuries, and for old age pensions ; to limit 
pauper immigration ; to increase the powers of local 


authorities in matters of housing and town improvements ; 
and to empower such authorities to advance money to 
working men to enable them to become owners of their 
houses. This last item, curious as it sounds now, was 
ardently advocated by Mr Chamberlain for a year or two. 
He had in fact undergone the inevitable change from his 
environment. He had not become a Tory ; but he had 
missed the contact with the new element in democratic 
feeling by which such a man as he would have profited, 
if he had remained on the Liberal side. Even on his 
present side he did not overlook the existence of the new 
element ; but he could have no contact with it, and the 
result was that he miscalculated it. He denied that the 
new Labour members represented any real force in the 
labour world, and that led him to mistake an advanced 
programme in the spirit of 1880 for an appeal to advanced 

Meanwhile the Salvation Army scheme was showing 
itself as founded rather on experience of destitution than 
on a proper understanding of the problem of unemploy- 
ment. The honesty of the administration of the fund, 
and the adequate keeping of accounts, were established 
by the investigations of a committee which had under- 
taken the work at General Booth's request. But the 
committee found that the relief works of the Army were 
really underselling the market in lines of cheap labour, 
and were thus creating as much destitution as they relieved. 
It may be added here that the Salvation Army's years of 
street struggles now came virtually to an end ; the clause 
in a Local Act, under which the Eastbourne authorities 
had repressed the Army's activities, was repealed by 
Parliament in this year; and when the Town Council 
tried to make by-laws permitting repression the Home 
Secretary refused his sanction. Active persecution of the 
Salvation Army may from this time be said to have ceased. 

By the end of the year it was becoming terribly evident 


that distress of a grievous kind, even if it did not amount 
to starvation, was at thousands of doors where no such 
visitant had been expected. In October a business with 
vast ramifications, called the Liberator Building Society, 
went into bankruptcy. The small savings of an immense 
number of people were in it ; it had, indeed, never been 
an affair for large investments, but had acquired practically 
all its capital from the artisan and the small shopkeeper. 
The first announcement of its failure left, perhaps, 
some hope ; the announcement in November that the 
Public Prosecutor had been approached in the matter 
began to put a different complexion on the state of the 
society's business. 

As for the large investor, a bad trade year in Great 
Britain had kept his new interest in South Africa alive. 
The gold boom continued in a milder form, and Mr 
Rhodes was a stalwart figure to give the investor confidence 
in the possibilities of the territories he so largely controlled. 
He was in England again in the winter, rousing a great 
meeting of the British South Africa Company to en- 
thusiasm for his schemes, which were now being revealed 
at their height. He spoke of telegraph lines from south 
to north of Africa by way of Uganda and Wady Haifa, and 
of an advance of civilisation by that route, which should, 
so to speak, take the dervishes in the rear, and remove 
the necessity of having to fight them. The idea was that 
other interruptions of the magnificent whole might also 
be removed without fighting. Complaints about the 
Boers' treatment of the gold industry, which had been 
making a slight appearance from time to time, were 
growing rather more loud. However, the hope was 
expressed that the backward nation which occupied the 
Transvaal might be removed from it ultimately without 
war ; though references to " gratuitous germs of race 
bitterness " betray glimpses of the real feelings at work. 

Alarm about cholera, from which England had been 


free for some years, returned in the summer, when the 
presence of the disease at St Petersburg and Hamburg 
led to fears that it might be introduced into this country 
by immigrants. In the autumn there were a few cases 
in the ports on the English as well as on the French 
side of the Channel. The authorities had the more 
reason to be uncomfortable since a fever epidemic in 
London in the summer, 4000 cases being under treatment 
in September, had shown once again the prevalence of 
insanitary conditions. However, the cholera was success- 
fully kept within bounds. The cases in England were 
limited to thirty-five, and the isolation arrangements 
were so good that in no single instance did the disease 
extend to other persons than those who landed in 
England with it upon them. That is to say, there was 
no spread of infection at all. 



ALTHOUGH the Liberal majority was unreal 
for any purpose but that of Home Rule, the 
Government entered on its first serious session 
amid as much obloquy and fear from Conservatism as if 
it were a revolutionary junta in command of absolute 
power. Mr Gladstone was the sole cause of this attitude. 
In the clash of violent feeling roused during the Home Rule 
controversy of 1886 the personal dislike of him, active 
enough in the late seventies, had assumed an almost 
superstitious form. For a few years before the election of 
1880 it was actually difficult for a London hostess to gather 
a dinner-party to meet Mr Gladstone, unless she was 
content to confine herself to his known adherents. His 
power of moving great audiences, his desire to move 
them, and the directions in which he wished to move 
them, appeared as a terrible break with the old gentleman- 
like politics in which he had been reared. Dread of his 
power grew to be a very large element in Queen Victoria's 
obvious mistrust of him ; and she was only reflecting the 
feelings of the higher social ranks of the country. When 
he took up the cause of Home Rule, dislike was inflamed 
into hatred. He alone at that time could have created 
and held together a party against the furious attacks 
of the Tories and the Unionists ; therefore the fact that 
he was there to do it focussed upon him the intense 
bitterness of feeling. A yet more amazing stage remained. 
That adoration of him on his own side which took such 
affectionate pride in the vigour of his old age, which gloried 



in his capacity at eighty-three to lead one more Govern- 
ment to attempt Home Rule, which pinned its faith so 
fiercely to him as the " Grand Old Man," was answered 
on the other side by a belief, ridiculous as it might seem, 
that such a spirit in so old a man could only be attributed 
to some form of demoniac possession. Numbers of people, 
otherwise sensible, actually believed that there was some- 
thing satanic in Mr Gladstone ; and, once that super- 
stitious feeling was aroused, his constant expression of his 
deeply religious convictions only made the case worse. 
The working of his mind, often involved, and showing 
such expertness in mental processes that the result was 
frequently a balanced pronouncement, in which simpler 
minds could see no finality, became in the eyes of the 
superstitious another sign of " possession " ; they took 
it as a form of gathering into his toils those who, if they 
had read his real thoughts, would have ceased from follow- 
ing him. In the two Mr Gladstones of popular fancy 
the Grand Old Man who would perform a miracle, and 
the Terrible Old Man who would ruin the Empire the 
ordinary person's interest in politics was centred, not 
upon the new Government as a Government. 

The times were not propitious. The great strike in 
Lancashire, which had begun in November, showed no 
signs of coming to an end, and hunger stalked through the 
cotton towns. Other industries were in a nervous, irrit- 
able condition which portended more strikes. At the 
same time the full effects of the Liberator bankruptcy 
began to be apparent ; early in January it was said that 
the examination of the society's affairs was leading to the 
conclusion that the shareholders would lose everything, 
and the depositors would be fortunate if they got three or 
four shillings in the pound. Angry discussions raged as 
to the responsibility of prominent persons who had allowed 
their names to figure on the prospectus ; but there were 
individuals upon whom it soon appeared that direct 


punishment would fall. The man who was supposed 
to have been chiefly responsible for fraudulent handling 
of the funds, Jabez Spencer Balfour, had fled the country 
at an early stage of the disaster, and no one knew where 
he was. But three men were put on their trial, Hobbs, 
Wright and Newman, and though the evidence of the 
financial juggling which had gone on the interweaving 
of building speculation with private borrowings which 
had, for instance, the prosecution alleged, transferred two 
millions sterling to the pockets of Hobbs from the 
Liberator's funds was extremely complicated, the end 
of the trial was plain enough. Hobbs and Wright were 
sentenced to twelve years' penal servitude, and Newman 
to five years. In April, a month after the trial was over, 
news at last arrived of Balfour ; he had been recognised 
at Buenos Ayres, and application had been made for his 
extradition. He was regarded as the real villain of the 
piece. Hobbs had only aspired to be Mayor of Croydon ; 
but Balfour had posed as a financial magnate, with a great 
extravagant country house, a seat in Parliament, and a 
reputation for benevolence. He proceeded now to prove 
that at any rate the cleverness at the back of the Liberator 
frauds had been largely his contribution. His extradition 
was formally granted by the Argentine authorities on 
17th April ; he invented ingenious processes of the law by 
which he delayed for two whole years the carrying out of 
the extradition order, and almost caused his victims to 
despair of his ever being brought to justice. But mean- 
while some vengeance had been taken ; and energy was 
now turned to setting on foot a Relief Fund for those who 
had been ruined. 

The cotton strike terminated on 24th March in the 
famous Brooklands agreement, which has ever since 
governed the relations of employers and employed in 
that industry. It provided that the immediate reduction 
of wages should be, not 5 per cent., against which the mill- 


hands had struck, but 3 per cent. The more important 
feature of the agreement was that in future no changes 
should take place at intervals less than a year from the 
date of the last change, and that no single change should 
exceed 5 per cent, either of advance or of reduction ; 
machinery for consultation and arbitration was also set 
up, and an arrangement made for establishing committees 
of the masters' and the men's organisations, two com- 
mittees on either side, a lower and a higher, each of which 
should have not less than seven days, in a case of dispute, 
to consider its attitude. The agreement was hailed as 
a credit to Lancashire ; it was also a remarkable sign of 
the new relations which labour was setting up with its 
employers. A strike was no longer an isolated affair, and 
no longer a simple affair ; it contained various possibilities ; 
it was almost always now a declaration of unity of which 
masters might take account, if they wished. The statistics 
of strikes showed an increasing number of disputes which 
were not about wages ; thus in 1890 wages disputes were 
62 per cent, of the whole, and in 1891 were 54 per cent. 
An equally significant fact was that in strikes undertaken 
purely to defend Trade Union principles, although the 
masters won rather more than half the battles, the cases 
which the strikers won were the far more important ones. 
These statistics of the industrial world had been published 
for several years past, and in this year the work of collect- 
ing and presenting them was put under a special branch 
of the Board of Trade, the Labour Department, which 
Mr Mundella, President of the Board, created. 

During the winter the new education was of as much 
interest as the new Unionism. The two subjects were not 
devoid of a remote connection, because upper middle-class 
people, seeing prices disturbed, and conveniences of life 
affected, by the demands of workmen, began to question 
why they should at the same time be paying more for the 
education of those workmen. It was not a very reasonable 


train of thought, but it was an enticing one. Local taxa- 
tion, according to a Local Government Board report 
published in April of this year, was certainly tending 
to fall more heavily on the house-occupier and less 
on the landowner. Sometimes the grievance was 
put differently ; the ratepayer complained that he was 
being mulcted for the education of the working classes, 
who then used their education to form unions, and 
endanger dividends. People grumbled increasingly at the 
effect of compulsory education in making the educated 
less content with their station in life ; to meet them with 
more education was in this view deplorable. A time of 
uncertain trade and a wet, depressing winter made these 
grievances louder, so that it behoved the champions of 
education to bestir themselves. It was useless to blink 
the fact that the new education would not only go on 
making demands upon the national pocket, but would make 
ever-increasing demands. There was already a dearth of 
teachers in technical schools, and the state of the teaching 
staff of elementary schools cried aloud for more and better 
training colleges. The Duke of Devonshire, in his level- 
headed way, attacked the most prevalent ground of com- 
plaint ; he argued that, instead of increasing the attempt 
to migrate from one class to another, technical education 
would diminish the " black-coat fetish," would set up an 
ideal of workmanship in place of the feeling that the desk- 
worker was a more respectable person than the skilled 
artisan, and so would diminish the tendency to congestion 
in the world of clerks and shop assistants. The answer 
made to this argument was that technical schools showed 
a danger of turning out bad artists rather than good crafts- 
men. It fell to Mr Balfour, speaking at Manchester, to 
remind the country that, after all, a progressive and 
energetic community like Manchester had had a 
Mechanics' Institute twenty years ago and a School of Art 
fifty-six years ago; the Technical Education Act had 


only put upon a national basis work which the great 
industrial towns had found so desirable, that they had 
instituted private efforts to set it on foot long before any- 
one dreamed of it as proper work for public authorities. 
Meanwhile other speakers like Lord Justice Bowen re- 
minded the public that education (which he called " the 
cultivation for market -purposes of brute brain power ") 
was not thought of by its best supporters as supplanting 
morality and religion ; a leaven had been set to work, and 
time must be given for its operation. 

Parliament met on 31st January for what became the 
longest session that had ever been known. It sat till the 
third week in September, and then, with only five weeks' 
recess, sat again until the beginning of March 1894 a 
session of thirteen months. The Government introduced 
rapidly three large measures. The Home Rule Bill was 
produced in February, the Welsh Disestablishment Bill 
in the same month, and the Local Veto Bill at the beginning 
of March. But of these only the Home Rule Bill counted 
for the moment in the Liberal forces. The introduction 
of the other two might have been thought to have been 
designed, in some extraordinary failure of judgment, to 
serve as irritants during several months in which the 
Liberal party would be too much occupied to defend 
them in the country. The licensed victualling trade at 
once organised meetings against the Local Veto Bill ; 
and even people well affected towards licensing reform 
were cooled by the production of a measure, which made 
no alterations in the system of licensing, but was devoted 
solely to such projects as establishing polls of districts, 
to be taken on the demand of ten persons, on the question 
of prohibiting the sale of liquor in the district, and setting 
up a form of public management of licensed houses with a 
bonus to the resident manager on the sale of non- 
intoxicants. It was little wonder that Mr Chamberlain 
saw as much profit in attacking this measure as in com- 


bating Honie Rule. 1 The Welsh Disestablishment Bill 
also provoked meetings against the Government all over 
England ; and, as neither Bill was advanced a single stage 
in all this year, their production seemed a gratuitous 
rousing of opposition. Practically the whole of the time 
until the adjournment for the short recess in September 
was taken up by the Home Rule Bill. Its only novel feature 
as compared with the previous Bill 2 was the retention 
at Westminster of Irish members, their numbers being 
reduced from a hundred and three to eighty. But exactly 
what their position was to be, whether they were to vote on 
all subjects or only on Irish subjects, and what was to be 
said in the former case of a situation in which Irishmen 
might govern England, by holding the balance between 
parties, but Englishmen could not govern Ireland 
these were the points of hottest dispute in the inter- 
minable debates in Committee. The second reading 
debate was a long one, and at the beginning of it the 
Opposition were not wholly united in their policy. A 
party meeting had to be called at the Carlton Club (it was 
notable as marking Lord Randolph Churchill's return to 
the fold of the orthodox on Irish questions) ; and, though 
some strong differences of opinion as to the method of 
fighting the Bill were expressed, the decision was ultimately 
taken for a solid vote against the second reading on 22nd 
April. Then the long Committee stage began ; it occupied 
sixty-three sittings, and Mr Gladstone himself was not 
free from some responsibility for the inordinate length of 
the proceedings. The concentration of the past seven 
years upon the subject of Ireland had so preserved his 
energy, besides enlarging his store of knowledge, that he 
brought to these debates an incredible vigour. Unfortun- 
ately vigour with him meant copiousness ; he maintained, 
in a House of Commons which had learned obstructive 
arts, the tradition of a day when these were unknown, 
1 The Times, 7th April 1 893 . a See p. 1 8 1 . 


and the result was that his speeches offered a thousand 
points of petty debate, in sentences which he threw in 
merely for purposes of illustration or amplification. 1 
Dull though the whole debate became to the world 
outside the walls of Parliament, there was little else to 
talk about. The introduction of the Bill had intensified 
the animosities in society, which were so bad for the spirit 
of the London season. 

Then the business world was depressed by a disastrous 
failure of credit in Australia. In March banks began to 
suspend payment there, and the whole structure of credit 
in the colony was found to depend to a dangerous degree 
upon land speculation, which at a time of crisis dropped 
with a run. Banks had also been engaged in direct trading, 
and their capital was insufficiently paid up. Moreover, 
though the gold reserves were larger than in England, 
being on an average 20 to 25 per cent, of the deposits, as 
against an average of about 12 per cent, in England, they 
were not large enough for a country in which, owing to 
its isolation, securities were necessarily almost impossible 
to realise in a moment of difficulty. Out of fifteen large 
banks in Australia seven had suspended payment in April, 
and the crash had the more serious effects in England, 
because, oddly enough, there were few British shareholders, 
but a very large number of British depositors ; one bank 
alone, the Commercial Bank of Australia, held British de- 
posits to the amount of five or six millions. Such a disaster 
as this, following on the disaster to a less speculative class 
in the Liberator Society's downfall, disposed the country 
very ill to the reception of a Budget showing a deficit of a 
million and a half, and demanding an extra penny on the 
Income Tax. The alcohol revenue, which had been so 
strong a support of Mr Goschen's management of national 
finances, had fallen off heavily, as was usual in years of 
bad trade ; and that enhancement of revenue which Sir 
1 Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 502. 


William Harcourt was known to have in mind, the Death 
Duties, could not be proposed in a session so over- 
whelmingly occupied as this was by the Home Rule Bill. 
At this moment, too, a strike occurred which was 
more menacing and disturbing than recent strikes had 
been. It was a dock strike at Hull, and it arose out of 
unionists' refusal to work with non-unionists. We have 
had occasion to remark that the first threat of a shipping 
strike on these lines had been accompanied by peculiarly 
sharp exchanges from either side. 1 It was now to be seen 
that such appearances were not empty. The struggle at 
once became a severe one. The Seamen's and Firemen's 
Union joined the dockers ; the Shipping Federation, now 
a virtually complete organisation of shipowners, would not 
yield an inch. The careful keeping of order which had 
distinguished other strikes gave way, and fires occurred at 
the docks which could hardly have been caused by any- 
thing but incendiarism. The military were called out. 
But the strike never became a widespread movement 
affecting other ports, and it ended after six weeks in the 
defeat of the men. 

In June a trouble of a different kind descended upon 
the nation. While the fleet in the Mediterranean was 
carrying out some tactical exercises, the flagship, the 
Victoria, was rammed broadside by the Camperdown, and 
sank so rapidly that the Admiral in command, thirty-three 
officers, and three hundred and twenty men were drowned. 
The reason for the accident appeared to be that orders 
given for a certain turning movement of the two lines, in 
which the fleet was being handled, had been based on an 
error in calculating the distance between the lines, and 
the Victoria and the Camperdown, the leading ships, 
instead of clearing one another in the turn, came into 
collision. The news appalled the country, and was a 
grievous spot in a somewhat sorry year. 
1 See pi 2801 


In July temper in the House of Commons grew pugna- 
cious. The committee stage of the Home Rule Bill was 
placed under the operation of a closure resolution, bringing 
discussion to an end on successive sections of the Bill at 
certain hours. Considering the time that had been spent 
on the Bill, the Government seemed to have no alternative ; 
but the resentment shown was far greater than in the 
previous applications of that kind of closure under the 
late Government. It flamed up at the end of the com- 
mittee stage into a free fight on the floor of the House. 
Words had been used which created an uproar, and a 
Nationalist member, who had been shouting at an Ulster 
member, and could not make him hear in the noise, went 
to sit by him, to make sure of his hearing. A neighbour of 
the Ulster member pushed the Nationalist away, and that 
let loose the fight. The Speaker was sent for, and, as his 
dignified presence fortunately caused the fighting to die 
down, the incident terminated there and then. But it 
seemed to many people in the country characteristic of a 
misguided session, and of a year of irritable feelings. The 
summer witnessed a second strike which led to rioting, 
and this time with more serious results than had occurred 
at Hull. The prices of coal had been adversely affected 
by the prevailing weakness of trade, and the masters 
demanded a reduction of 25 points of the 40 per cent, 
advances in wages which had been conceded between 
1880 and 1890. The strike against the reduction was not 
universal ; the Northumberland and Durham miners 
never joined it, and the South Wales miners were only in- 
volved for a time. The Midlands, Yorkshire and Lanca- 
shire were the heart of the strike, and it was in Yorkshire 
that its most deplorable incident occurred. Men had been 
imported to work mines in South Wales and South York- 
shire, and the determination of the strikers to prevent this 
led to violent riots. Soldiers were drafted into those 
districts, and it happened that at Featherstone in South 


Yorkshire a fight against blacklegging occurred on a day 
during Doncaster Races, The authorities had unwisely 
pursued their usual method of mustering police at Don- 
caster from other districts, making no special allowance 
for the disturbed state of the colliery regions. The result 
was that the strikers were able to move far too rapidly, 
and did so much damage to the colliery that, when the 
military arrived, the mob was completely out of hand. 
Orders were given to fire, and two men were killed. This 
brought a sharp attack upon Mr Asquith from Mr Keir 
Hardie, and an official inquiry was opened. But of course 
no blame could be attached ; the colliery was in danger of 
being entirely wrecked, and the action of the mob, what- 
ever its excuse, was not technically defensible. The 
report made by the committee of inquiry was that the 
soldiers were justified in firing ; and the whole matter 
could only survive as one more grievance of the socialists 
against capital. Capital on its own side was not blind to 
the suggestions of counter-combination which the strike 
conveyed. In September there was no little talk of the 
formation of a huge Coal Trust, which should maintain 
the prices of coal. The ordinary point of view was that 
it was all very well for the miners to talk about a living 
wage, but, if the public would not buy the commodity, 
how could an artificial standard of wages be kept up ? 
This gave a very plausible argument for a coal trust ; 
by controlling prices, and establishing a sliding scale of 
wages in relation to the market, the trust could secure 
the men's position. But in point of fact the coalowners 
were so far from a spirit of combination that they could not 
even stand together during the strike. As the dispute 
lengthened out, and the price of coal rose, some of the 
masters found the temptation too much for them, and 
broke away from their own side, conceding the miners' 
terms, in order to have their pits at work. Those who 
did so were said to have made fortunes ; but incidentally 


they embittered the dispute on both sides. It dragged 
on throughout the autumn, with various side-issues. A 
Labour Disputes Bill was introduced at the end of July, 
to enable the Board of Trade to appoint a conciliator or in- 
quirer in a dispute ; no power was given to enforce any 
award that might be made, and the Bill was therefore 
regarded as bloodless. The great work that might 
be done by an official, inquiring into the two points 
of view, and acting as a channel of communication, 
was hardly likely to be foreseen at a time when strikes 
were at their sharpest. A more curious concomitant of 
the present strike was the spirit displayed at the annual 
meeting of the Chambers of Commerce in September. 
Never before had the gradual change from the old idea of 
free competition to a desire for State interference shown 
itself so clearly. The resolution in favour of compulsory 
arbitration boards had a fairly obvious connection with 
recent events. But it was curious to see the same spirit 
which animated working men moving now in the trading 
classes, in resolutions in favour of a State system of second- 
ary education, of a reduction of railway rates, of graduated 
taxation designed to relieve the trading middleman, and 
of the creation of a department of Government for com- 
mercial affairs. It was small wonder that the philosophical 
economists, looking on, should say that socialism was now 
only a question of the degree to which State action was in- 
voked, and was no longer a battle-ground between classes. 
This kind of comment was rendered much more possible 
by a change in the attitude of the leaders of professed 
socialism, a change which corrected the somewhat violent 
swinging of the pendulum during the disputes of the late 
eighties in London. May day of 1893 was made the 
occasion for the issue of a new socialist manifesto. It was 
the work rather of Mr Bernard Shaw, Mr Sidney Webb, 
and the Fabians, than of William Morris and the older 
school. It formulated definitely the return to political 


economy in its pronouncement that moralisation of the 
conditions of a capitalist society would not serve as an 
ideal. Complete ownership by the community of the 
means of wealth, and the end of the wage-system, must 
be the goal. At the same time the manifesto repudiated 
the anarchist tendencies which had made their appear- 
ance, not so much in actual violence, as in the doctrine that 
all tinkering reform should be opposed, in order that the 
flood might gather for revolution. The new manifesto, 
on the contrary, urged that all ameliorative measures 
should be accepted, as giving the workman more leisure 
and more equipment to work for a new social order. In 
practice, therefore, socialists would use their efforts for 
an eight-hours day, for the establishment of a minimum 
living wage, for the suppression of sweating and sub- 
contracting, and for universal suffrage. In other words, 
the socialist would not stand outside politics, but would 
be in the midst of them, distinguishable from a Radical 
only by the end he kept in view, and not at all by his 
conduct at any given time. Fifteen years later it was to 
be difficult for many Liberals to say whether they were 
socialists or not. 

An immediate sequel to this new attitude on the part 
of the socialist; was the formation of the Independent 
Labour Party. An earlier attempt to form such a party 
in 1888 had failed. In 1893 a conference was held in 
Bradford, with better results, and the I.L.P. was con- 
stituted, " with the object of securing the collective 
ownership of all the means of production, distribution 
and exchange, by means of direct Labour representation in 
Parliament and on local authorities." It was the natural 
outcome of the arrival in Parliament of the new spirit 
infused into trade unions during the eighties of Mr Keir 
Hardie's tweed cap and brass band. He was elected the 
first President of the party. 

When the Home Rule Bill at last went to the House of 


Lords, at the beginning of September, its course was 
speedily run. There had already been one small brush 
between the two Houses. The London County Council, 
in its Bill for constructing a proper approach to the south 
side of the Tower Bridge, attempted once more to establish 
the " betterment " principle. It had asked for the sup- 
port of other corporations, and so much ground had been 
won for the idea since its inception that its advocates 
in the House were not confined to one side. The clause, 
after passing the Commons, was cut out of the Bill by the 
Lords. But on the return of the Bill, the Commons insisted 
by a majority of 221 to 88 on the retention of the clause, 
many Unionists voting for it, although the stronghold of 
Unionism Birmingham had not been persuaded to 
support the principle. The Lords, however, were in 
no mood for agreement, and again struck out the clause. 
For the Irish Bill they mustered in astonishing force. Lord 
Spencer moved the second reading on 5th September ; 
the Duke of Devonshire moved the rejection of the Bill ; 
and on 8th September the House divided. There were 
41 votes for the Bill, and 419 against it. The division has 
certainly one feature of interest. Some measure of the 
almost passionate feeling against Home Rule is given by 
the great size of the vote. That in September, sacred 
month of sport, the House of Lords should have felt it 
necessary not only to reject the Bill fifty men could have 
done that but to overwhelm it, to obliterate it, to stamp 
it out of existence, shows what kind of opposition had been 

Mr Gladstone had let it be known, before the Bill was 
introduced, that he did not intend to make its inevitable 
rejection by the House of Lords a ground for immediate 
dissolution. The Commons had turned to other work. 
They took up, not the two large and controversial measures 
which had been formally introduced early in the session, 
but two of a sound popular appeal. One was the Parish 


Councils Bill, extending the system of local government 
to smaller areas than the counties, and the other, which 
chiefly occupied the remainder of the year in Parliament, 
was an Employers' Liability Bill, one more amendment of 
the existing Acts. It brought domestic servants under 
the Act; and it also cleared away the last confusions 
about " common employment," making the employer 
liable for accidents due to the negligence of a fellow- 
workman. A more doubtful provision was that allowing 
the removal to the High Court of a claim for more than 
100 ; the value of compensation to a workman's family 
would be seriously diminished by months of delay. The 
real point of struggle, however, was in the repeal of the 
power of " contracting out " of liability. The chief justi- 
fication for " contracting out " had been the existence in 
very many cases of accident insurance societies, main- 
tained by large firms for the benefit of their workmen ; it 
was reasonably argued that, if employers were to be liable, 
without distinction, to actions for compensation, none of 
them would add to their burden the maintenance of such 

In October the distress and disturbance of the coal 
strike grew so serious that the mayors of the Midland 
towns met to try to arrange a settlement. As this was 
just the period at which some of the masters were giving 
way, the opportunity was hardly favourable, and the 
attempt failed. For another month the dispute remained 
as it was. Then the Government was moved to intervene, 
and was able to arrange a conference of fourteen coal- 
owners and fourteen representatives of the miners, to meet 
at the Foreign Office under the chairmanship of Lord 
Rosebery. Not only did the conference succeed in coming 
to terms, but it laid the foundation of a system which was 
to prove as lasting an instrument of negotiation between 
masters and men as the Brooklands agreement in the 
cotton trade. Their immediate point the men won ; 


they were to return to work at their old wages, not subject 
to the deduction the masters originally claimed, until 1st 
February 1894 ; and meanwhile a Conciliation Board of 
fourteen from each side, under an impartial chairman, 
was to consider the position and make an award. 

For the moment, however, the advanced labour men 
were concerning themselves with " the right to work." 
The directions to Poor Law authorities under the Act of 
1818 were recalled, and in December Mr Keir Hardie 
moved a resolution in the House expressing the new idea. 
But he found only thirty-three to support him, and the 
general opinion was that the efforts of Poor Law authorities 
to deal with unemployment by providing work were in- 
evitably wasteful. A Mansion House Conference reported 
at the end of the year against the notion of relief works, 
saying that the employment which could be provided in 
that way was only intermittent, and the knowledge that 
it was being provided attracted men out of work in other 
places, so producing a worse congestion of labour. A 
deputation to Mr Gladstone on the subject took place on 
28th December, and received a reply on lines similar to 
those of the report. 

Far more directly profitable was a widely spread dis- 
cussion which arose out of the debates on the Employers' 
Liability Bill. The question of what could fairly be called 
ground for compensation brought up the case of trade 
injuries, which were not, strictly speaking, accidents. 
The most flagrant instance was that of lead poisoning, 
caused by glazing processes in the manufacture of china 
and earthenware, which had in the previous year been 
declared by the Home Secretary a dangerous trade, under 
the terms of the Act of 1891. Mr John Burns and other 
Labour members had spoken very strongly in the course of 
the debates, and a committee had been appointed by the 
Home Office. It reported that it was unable to recommend 
the prohibition by law of the use of white lead in such pro- 


cesses ; but it endorsed to the full the terrible charges which 
had been made. Certain administrative rules were pro- 
posed, and it was hoped that by insistence on better ventila- 
tion, to carry off the powdered lead in the air, and better 
provisions for cleanliness on the part of the workers en- 
gaged, the use of white lead might be rendered almost, if 
not quite, innocuous. 

In truth the mind of the ordinary public was not con- 
cerned with the doings of this long-lingering session. Its 
real interest in December was the Ardlamont murder trial. 
A baffling case had arisen out of the death at the end of 
August of a young man of considerable possessions in 
Scotland. He had been found one day shot on his estate 
at Ardlamont, and his tutor, a man named Monson, was 
arrested. The trial took place in Scotland, and ended in 
the Scottish verdict of " not proven." It expressed prob- 
ably the feelings of most of those who had followed the 
case ; and they were by far the greater part of the popula- 

Those who hardly found the murder a subject to their 
taste had enough to discuss in a new play, The Second Mrs 
Tanqueray, which made its appearance in the autumn of 
this year. It seemed at the time to be a portentous change 
in native drama, which had hitherto shown no inclination 
towards a theatrical presentation of social or moral 
problems. Such indigenous character as it had shown 
hitherto was rather in the vein of caricature, and, at the 
best, of comedy. The burlesques of notable operas, 
which succeeded one another steadily at the famous 
Gaiety Theatre, were an imported idea ; but the Gilbert 
and Sullivan " comic operas " were an entirely native 
product, and in the early nineties a new form of enter- 
tainment, more loosely constructed, and amounting 
sometimes to little more than a series of " star " 
turns connected by a vague thread of story, had 
grown up out of the " comic operas." It was so sue- 


cessful that people with a serious interest in the theatre 
began to think that the taste for the modern music halls 
was going to be the death of the drama in England. 
This feeling had coincided curiously with a largely 
increased interest, among people of social standing, in 
the theatre as such, and in artists of the theatre. It 
had not been an interest in drama ; indeed The Times, in 
commenting on it, remarked complacently that no menace 
to British standards of morals and conventions was to 
be apprehended from the new fashion of going to see 
the performances of French plays by French theatrical 
companies in London. But comedy had undergone a 
revival in the works of Wilde and Barrie ; and the Inde- 
pendent Theatre had gathered a public for the drama of 
social ideas. The theatres were ready for a bid in this 
direction, and The Second Mrs Tanqueray was produced. 
It gave us an actress of a wholly new type in Mrs Patrick 
Campbell ; and it also gave London engrossing matter of 
small talk for the winter. 



THE year that followed was not devoid of important 
political events. It witnessed the withdrawal of 
Mr Gladstone from Parliament, the production of 
the Death Duties Budget, the enunciation of the " two- 
Power standard " as a naval ideal, and other incidents less 
lasting in their effect. But the year bears quite as deeply 
marks of the shocks experienced in its course by the re- 
spectable strata of England, from the height of the upper 
ranks of the services, and the professions, down to the 
levels of retail trade. It was a year in which the face of 
a startled bourgeoisie looks out from every month. None 
of the shocks came from quite unexpected directions ; but 
they were not the less startling. 

Early in the year the rather vague horror of anarchism 
was focussed by an extraordinary explosion in Greenwich 
Park ; during a fog on 15th February a Frenchman, 
Bourdin, was blown to pieces by a bomb which he was 
carrying. The incident followed closely on the execution 
in Paris of a man named Vaillant, who had thrown a bomb 
into the Chamber of Deputies. It followed also a long 
period of more or less reasonable uneasiness in England 
about the currents and cross-currents of socialism. The 
case of the Walsall anarchists 1 had given unnecessary 
prominence to a small group which had formed itself inside 
the Labour movement. Yet that it was not wholly a 
negligible group is clear from the repudiation of anarchism 
in the new socialist manifesto of May day 1893. There 
1 See p/ 3 1 7. 



had been a new tone in the meetings of men on Tower Hill ; 
the unemployed were still numerous, still united in a kind 
of loose organisation by daily meetings ; and they varied 
the monotony of meetings by parading the West End 
squares. But their actions would have had less import- 
ance if they had not succeeded in catching public attention 
by a disgusting phrase ; their favourite threat was to 
send police and officials "to heaven by chemical parcel 
post." * About this time, too, a club of foreign anarchists 
in Soho became a familiar name to the public the 
Autonomie Club. Upon these definite things respectable 
people vented a great deal of respectable fury. The abuse 
by anarchists of the asylum offered by this country to 
foreign refugees, the inertness of the police in the matter 
of the Autonomie Club (which can hardly, once it was so 
well known, have been the source of any anxiety to the 
police), the threats uttered at Tower Hill meetings, had 
led to many murmurings before the Greenwich explosion 
acted as detonator to all the stored -up anger. Writers 
of letters to the newspapers had their counterparts among 
humbler people who thought dynamite, like knives in a 
quarrel, a " dirty foreign trick," and the funeral procession 
which followed Bourdin was attacked by a mob near 
Fitzroy Square. Many foreigners had gathered there to 
see it pass, and though the police diverted the procession in 
order to avoid an outbreak, the anti-anarchist forces 
deployed on the new route in time to make a very con- 
siderable riot. Throughout the year the smallest excuse 
served for a little homily to Labour men or to trade 
unions on their neighbourhood to these deplorable 

The solid kind of Briton, who presented a less disturbed 
front to these anxieties, suffered from qualms of a more 
searching nature. The national, solidity itself was, he 

1 The phrase was in existence some years earlier, but it now 
became common; 


lamented, being sapped. The Pre-Raphaelite painters, 
whose work he had regarded as maundering and unhealthy, 
he now saw acclaimed. The death of Ford Madox Brown 
in 1893 had called forth the warmest appreciations of his 
work and his influence ; now in the very beginning of 
1894 the solid Briton read that Burne-Jones had been 
made a baronet, and rubbed his eyes still more in amaze- 
ment. He began to feel himself a stranger in his own 
art-dealers' rooms. If he went to the theatre he saw 
a procession of " women with a past " following The Second 
Mrs Tanqueray across his stage. When he read novels he 
found books like Keynotes, The Yellow Aster, Dodo and 
Esther Waters, upsetting equally his views of what women 
should be thinking about and his idea of what novelists 
should write about. The Yellow Book presented the work 
of Aubrey Beardsley to his astonished eyes. On country 
roads he met women not only riding bicycles, which he 
had not as yet admitted to be a proper occupation for them, 
but actually riding them without the hampering accom- 
paniments of either a skirt or a chaperon. The "new 
woman " with her symbolical latch-key was a purely 
middle-class product ; and she shook that class profoundly. 
She was so mixed in her qualities. It was all very well to 
have a wholesome dislike of her novels and dismiss them 
as neurotic ; but somehow she had a way of presenting 
herself also in athletic shapes on the tennis-lawn or the 
golf-links (the latter were just now sadly depleting the 
former, and the " tennis girl " was dropping out of fashion) 
which defied the Briton to be otherwise than proud of her. 
Then just when he was feeling proud, the same girls would 
light cigarettes, and talk slang, or they would thunder 
round ballrooms in the pas de quatre. If he consoled 
himself with the thought that after all not every young 
man was too decadent, or every young woman too 
emancipated, to think of one another, he was reminded 
by the charming Dolly Dialogues that, even when they 


did think about one another, they did it in strange 
new ways which no old-fashioned Briton could wholly 

Such cross-currents made the national temper a complex 
thing for any Government to ride ; and now the Liberal 
Government had to ride it without Mr Gladstone's control. 
His resignation of the Premiership was inevitable, yet 
it could not have been more inopportune for his party. 
Even before the labour of the second Home Rule Bill he 
had been forced to recognise a failure in himself, not of 
intellectual but of physical powers and among those only 
of his hearing and his eyesight which he could not but 
admit to be the limit of his political career. 1 He had been 
able to give the Bill not only his constant guidance in the 
House, but that exacting measure of guidance which his 
high standard of duty demanded ; he had been able to 
take his very large share in the work of a long session. 
When therefore, with the New Year, rumours arose of his 
intention to retire they carried no conviction. Mr Glad- 
stone was at Biarritz in January, and he returned to the 
somewhat dismal winding-up of the session. In his own 
mind his course of action had been settled. The immedi- 
ately determining cause, sufficing to turn the scale in the 
final moment of decision, was disagreement with his 
colleagues in the matter of the Naval Estimates ; he could 
not accept a policy of dominant naval power in Europe 
without reference to any particular question of the day 2 ; 
and such a policy had in effect been the outcome of the 
naval defence agitations of the past few years. The 
question of the efficiency of the navy had been raised in a 
vague way, and efficiency cannot be determined without 
a standard. No current events provided one. The only 
thing that could provide it was an assertion of dominance 
in Europe ; and to that assertion Mr Gladstone declined 

1 Morley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 496. 
< Ibid. iii. 508. 


to subscribe. 1 This was enough to give him the parting 
of the ways which otherwise, at a juncture of no favourable 
presage for his colleagues, he would have been the last 
man to see. 

The whole overgrown session left the Liberals with but 
one harvested sheaf the Parish Councils Bill and that 
not perfect in their eyes ; the House of Lords had intro- 
duced alterations in it. But rather than lose this measure 
also the Government accepted the alterations. They did 
not affect the main structure of the Bill. The Urban 
District Councils which it set up were the old urban 
sanitary authorities renamed and made elective ; they 
controlled matters of drainage, roads, infectious diseases 
and lighting ; they had power to promote private Bills, 
though the Local Government Board watched this power 
jealously, and only permitted its exercise in cases in 
which a Provisional Order could not be made ; and they 
had the County Council's power of delegating work to 
committees. The Rural District Councils were newer 
authorities. The sharpest point of controversy in the 
Bill was that providing that the Rural District councillor 
should represent his parish on the Board of Guardians. 
As the rural district and the union were most frequently 
identical in boundary this meant a popularly elected 
Board of Guardians, and the electoral qualification was 
lower than any ever yet known, no property stipulations 
being attached to it. Hence the strength of that attack 
upon the Bill which consisted in pointing out that the 
electors of the new Guardians were very largely pro- 
spective, or at least possible, candidates for relief. Parish 
Councils, which were the final subdivision of the new Local 
Government, were given certain powers as to sanitation 
and highways, without becoming statutory authorities 
for these duties ; and they were also given powers, which 

1 He went so far as to speak in private of the Naval Estimates as 
" mad and drunk."- 


were to become more important later on, in regard to the 
provision of allotments. 

No other Bill of importance had survived. The Home 
Rule Bill had been rejected by the House of Lords, the 
Employers' Liability Bill so fundamentally changed that 
the Government abandoned it. The Lords had insisted 
on the retention of the clause permitting " contracting 
out." But although meetings here and there might 
show signs of indignation, the feelings of the country 
were not strongly roused. Could Mr Gladstone have 
roused them ? He felt that the time had come at any 
rate for an attempt that the virtual destruction of the 
work of an exhausting session could be made " the right 
moment for a searching appeal to public opinion." 1 
From Biarritz he suggested dissolution to his colleagues, 
but received a " hopelessly adverse reply." It must have 
been a somewhat dreary state of mind which dictated the 
reply ; and it gave, no doubt, a fresh impulse to Mr Glad- 
stone's inclinations towards retirement. Even amid all 
the rumour and expectation of his retirement no one 
recognised his farewell to Parliament. On 1st March he 
spoke on the acceptance of the Lords' amendments to the 
Parish Councils Bill, and when, "upright as ever, and 
walking fast, with his despatch-box dangling from his 
right hand," 2 he had passed behind the Speaker's chair, 
members dispersed talking casually about the speech. 
Only one or two men, as they left the precincts of 
the House, were struck by the sudden thought that 
they would probably never hear Mr Gladstone in Par- 
liament again. In two days members were talking about 
that speech in new tones ; and those whose eyes had not 
happened to follow Mr Gladstone on that day knew that 
they had missed the historic sight of his final withdrawal 
from the House he had entered sixty-one years before. 

1 Motley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 5055 
Mr G. W. E. Russell's One Look Back. 


On 3rd March he handed his resignation to the Queen. 
Generations to whom his name conveys less of love, as 
well as less of hatred, than it conveyed to his own time, 
read with astonishment the account of that final interview. 
It is from Mr Gladstone himself that we have it, in phrases 
of the greatest dignity, untouched by injured feelings. 1 
At the first moment, indeed, the Queen showed apparent 
emotion, but she promptly recovered herself, so completely 
that she marked the close of over fifty years of public 
service by thanking her aged minister for " a service of 
no great merit, in the matter of the Duke of Coburg " ! 
Otherwise there was " not one syllable on the past." He 
had slipped quietly out of the House of Commons ; Queen 
Victoria allowed him to slip quietly out of Windsor Castle. 
He himself was thinking, finely enough, less of the past 
than of the future. He knew how much might depend on 
the appointment of his successor ; already the rumours 
concerning him had given rise to some strong expressions 
among Liberals as to the need, at such a moment of con- 
flict between the two Houses, of keeping the Premiership 
in the House of Commons. Mr Gladstone, curious as it 
may seem in view of his recent wish to dissolve on that 
conflict, did not agree with this feeling. He intended, if 
he were consulted, to advise the Queen to send for Lord 
Spencer ; and although there is no established custom of 
the Crown asking advice in such matters, Mr Gladstone 
might be pardoned for feeling that his unparalleled length 
of service and his unique position with his party would 
have rendered his advice in this case most valuable. It 
was, indeed, unbelievable to the Liberal party that Mr 
Gladstone was not consulted by the Queen. He had 
opportunity to intimate to Sir Henry Ponsonby, the 
Queen's private secretary, that he had " something serious 
to say," if the Queen commanded him. She preferred to 
take her own course, and on 6th March the Liberal party 
1 Motley's Life of Gladstone, iii. 513, 514; 


found itself under the leadership not only of a peer, but 
of a peer who was comparatively young, and had taken 
no great part in recent struggles. The Queen had en- 
trusted the formation of the new Ministry to Lord 
Rosebery. It must be noted that, if Mr Gladstone had 
been consulted, the party would none the less have found 
itself led by a peer. The truth was that, had a leader been 
sought for in the Commons, the choice must necessarily 
have fallen on Sir William Harcourt ; and his was a char- 
acter which many of his colleagues would have found 
intolerably overbearing in a Prime Minister. He would 
beyond doubt have found great difficulty in forming a 
Cabinet. Lord Rosebery, on the other hand, had no 
trouble in securing the co-operation of his colleagues ; 
they were loyal beyond what might have been expected. 
But two days after the opening of the new session, which 
took place on 1st March, the Government sustained a 
defeat on the Address. Mr Labouchere, who led the 
Radical feeling against the House of Lords, and scoffed 
at the policy of carrying on Government and allowing the 
Lords to "fill the cup of iniquity " by rejecting more 
measures, until the country should find the situation too 
much to bear, moved an amendment to the Address, pray- 
ing the Queen to end the power of the House of Lords to 
deal drastically with measures passed by the House of 
Commons. A combination of Radicals and Irish members 
with some other members carried this amendment by 147 
votes to 145. It was not of course thought for a moment 
that the new Government would resign on such a vote, but 
it made at least an uneasy start. Then the Home Rule 
odium, which Lord Rosebery had done his best to escape 
by all means short of actually repudiating Home Rule 
(if indeed they were short of it), was revived by a 
discussion of a proposal to send all Scottish Bills to 
a Scottish Grand Committee, which was accompanied 
immediately by a proposal from a young Welsh member, 



Mr Lloyd George, for a similar Grand Committee for 

Fortunately Sir William Harcourt was able this year 
to introduce the Death Duties Budget which had been 
postponed the year before ; and this measure was Radical 
enough, in its imposts on large accumulations of property, 
and accompanying extension of abatements of Income 
Tax on the lower scales of incomes, to pull the party to- 
gether. The new duties were a tax on all property, real 
or personal, settled or not settled, passing on the death 
of any person dying after 1st August 1894 ; the tax 
varied from l per cent, on estates over 100 but under 
500, up to 15 per cent, on estates over a million sterling. 
Naturally the proposal roused the sharpest opposition ; 
the extreme criticism was that this doctrine amounted 
to an assertion that the State had a right to what 
property a man left behind him, and that the succes- 
sion to it of his heirs would be for the future only a matter 
of indulgence. However, Sir William Harcourt managed 
his Bill with patience and so much command of the House 
that the Bill made admirable progress without any use 
of severe forms of procedure, and was despatched by the 
House of Commons in July. It included an enhanced 
Beer Tax. There had been a deficit of two and a quarter 
millions to meet (not a single European country, as it 
happened, escaped a deficit this year) x ; and although 
the new death duties would in time be very profitable 
they were for the present somewhat counterbalanced by 
the extension of Income Tax abatements ; and the Naval 
Estimates were heavy. There was no great sympathy 
with the brewers' outcry against the increased taxation of 
beer; but the Local Veto Bill was in existence, and the 
extra sixpence a barrel was therefore regarded by its 
victims less as a piece of taxation than as an act of 
political warfare. 

1 See the Punch cartoon, 2/th January 1894. 


The Local Veto Bill was dropped later in the session. 
It had had the disastrous effect of irritating moderate 
people all over the country, and this, far more than the 
active opposition of the licensed victualling trade, was the 
cause of the Bill's extreme unpopularity. There was a 
growing belief that the drinking habits of the country 
were undergoing a profound modification from changes in 
public opinion, which would be more effective and more 
lasting than any reforms by legislation could be. Lord 
Randolph Churchill, who had lately been devoting himself 
to the licensing question, had found it thorny and un- 

The Naval Estimates for which the Budget had to pro- 
vide showed the serious advance of three millions. That 
tendency to pursue a policy of dominance in European 
naval affairs with which Mr Gladstone had tried to con- 
tend, was given alike an impulse and a standard of effort 
by the visit in this year of the Russian fleet to Toulon, in 
demonstration of the treaty which had been negotiated 
between France and Russia. The meeting of the two allied 
fleets set comparisons going ; and the general overhauling 
of our state of defence, which had occupied the minds of 
anxious members of the public for months past, was 
followed by discussions of whether Great Britain had or had 
not a navy superior to the allied fleets. From this year, 
therefore, we may date the appearance of the " two-Power 
standard " as a controlling consideration in naval policy. 

Meanwhile in another kind of rivalry some attempt was 
being made to reform our system of secondary educa- 
tion ; the example of Germany and her growing mastery 
in trading methods were perpetually being dinned into 
the ears of the Government. A Royal Commission on 
Secondary Education was appointed in March, notable, if 
for nothing else, for the fact that it included three women 
commissioners Lady Frederick Cavendish, Mrs Henry 
Sidgwick and Mrs Sophie Bryant. There was, however, 


a strong feeling that if Germany afforded England a 
warning of one kind, France offered a contrary one in 
her immense production of men educated to the level of 
clerkdom and petty officialism. The National Union of 
Teachers was asking itself whether any real elementary 
education, beyond the acquisition of a cheap veneer, was 
in existence. On the other hand, a man of such sober 
stamp as the Duke of Devonshire, not at all likely to be 
misled by superficial appearances, was telling a Lanca- 
shire audience in November that great changes in outlook 
had already been wrought, and that working people had 
now not only the education that enabled them to earn 
money, but the far more valuable education that taught 
them how to expend it. German influence was not 
without its effect in higher spheres of education : in 
this year Oxford at last established a " research degree," 
to be attained by a post-graduate course of study open to 
those who were not members of the university. In May 
Professor Henry Morley died. He had taken no small 
share in the spreading of inexpensive culture, as distinct 
from mere education, by editing the most successful series 
current at the time of cheap reprints of the best English 
literature and translations of foreign classics. 

In April the long and difficult work of the Royal Com- 
mission on Labour Disputes came to an end with the 
publication of its report. It was not a very vigorous 
document. Even the much-discussed solution of diffi- 
culties by the establishment of industrial tribunals re- 
ceived but tentative support. The report pointed out 
that the strength of trade unions varied so much that no 
general system of tribunals could be proposed. More- 
over such bodies could only deal, in the opinion of the 
commission, with interpretation of existing conditions; 
voluntary arbitration boards alone could be useful where 
a change of conditions was in question. The more direct 
recommendations were, firstly, that the Board of Trade 


should be given more distinct powers for appointing 
arbitrators : "if the same persons were frequently ap- 
pointed they would become arbitration experts, and might 
then have some kind of permanent appointment " ; and, 
secondly, that the Factory Acts should be more stringently 
applied, with a view to driving out badly managed in- 
dustries dependent on cheap alien labour, which tended 
to lower wages. The commission also suggested that a 
better definition of " picketing " by trade unions was 
necessary. A supplement to the report appeared later 
in the form of some suggestions made by the Duke of 
Devonshire and other members of the commission, to the 
effect that associations both of employers and employed 
should be given existence as statutory corporations, so 
that either could be sued for breach of contract a liability 
which, while it would not prevent strikes, might check 
hastiness in entering upon them. The question immedi- 
ately raised by this notion was whether the power to 
enforce subscriptions from members, which a corporation 
possesses, would be held by the trade unions to counter- 
vail the liability to be sued as unions for the torts of 
members. A further supplement, being a separate report 
on the conditions of agricultural labour, was only inter- 
esting in that it spoke of those conditions as much 
improved, and the buying power of the rural labourer as 
much advanced. The whole report was hardly one on 
which action could be taken. No one was in a mood 
for small tinkerings of the problem. On the one hand 
the alarm about anarchism a debate in January on the 
report of the committee of inquiry into the Featherstone 
riots kept alive the inclination to take panic-stricken views 
of labour unrest was hardening feeling against trade 
unions, the congresses of which had for some years grown 
more and more socialistic in tone. On the other side the 
return from the old attitude of detachment from purely 
political controversy, the revulsion towards the use of 


parliamentary power, had grown so strong that socialist 
leaders were announcing their intention to abandon strikes 
in favour of an organised effort by political action to obtain 
control of the means of production. 1 The same spirit was 
working in the unions ; the presidential address at the 
Trade Union Congress in September turned on the idea 
that " Legislate " was to become more and more the 
watchword of the movement. Caught somewhat in a 
tender spot by this new enthusiasm, Conservatives began 
to remember uncomfortably that between the two political 
parties the difference in regard to State interference was 
one only of degree, not of principle ; and while this might 
have mattered little so long as the interference was not at 
the dictation of Labour, but was pure benevolence, Tories 
felt it time to draw back when the new force proposed 
to take a hand in the interference. Consequently even 
Mr Chamberlain's programme, little as it really carried of 
the true labour sentiment, was more brusquely treated 
by his allies when he revived it this year than it had 
been on its appearance in 1898. 2 The freedom of the 
year from serious strike troubles failed to reassure the 
anxious bourgeois. The only strike of any note was one 
of cabmen in London in the summer. It turned partly 
on the now common objection of unionists to working 
with non-unionists, but t chiefly on a question of the 
charges made by the cab-owners for the hire of cabs. The 
strike lasted nearly a month, much to the inconvenience 
of London at the height of its season ;" and it ended in 
the diminution of the masters' charges, balanced by the 
men's abandonment of their objection to non-unionists 
in the yards. A small incidental complaint of the men is 
noteworthy as a sign of changing customs ; there were now, 
they said, so many large Stores that ladies, when they went 

1 See, e.g., a letter by Mr Hyndman in The Times, i6th May 

* The Times, i/th October 1894. 


shopping, had less need of cabs than they had in the old 
days, when they were obliged to journey from shop to 
shop. The Coal Conciliation Board made its award, and 
secured peace in that industry for a time by renewing the 
two last 5 per cent, advances in wages until 1st January 
1896 ; the men on their side showing less tendency to 
take the uncompromising position that wages should not 
depend upon, but govern, market prices. 

The great event of the early summer, however, con- 
cerned none of these things, but was the Derby Day, when 
Lord Rosebery won with Lad as. He was never secure 
after that in his leadership of the Liberal party. His 
achievement was one more of the shocks of the year to 
an ultra-respectable public. Not a very great number, 
perhaps, went with the National Anti-Gambling League 
and its spokesman, Mr Hawke, in demanding that Lord 
Rosebery should choose between the Premiership and the 
Turf. But there were certainly many who felt that Turf 
interests, if not actively harmful, were not a dignified trait 
in the successor of Mr Gladstone ; many again who felt 
that a party recently vocal against the gilded irresponsi- 
bilities of the peers was oddly led to triumph at Epsom. 
Add these mixed feelings to the prejudices and disaffection 
under which Lord Rosebery entered on his Premiership, 
and the result was enough disagreement in the party to 
render it somewhat ineffective. The famous Budget 
passed the House of Lords without a division ; it enjoyed 
the traditional impunity of a Finance Bill in that House. 
But the Evicted Tenants Bill, founded on the work of the 
commission whose appointment had been one of the first 
acts of the new Government in 1893, was thrown out ; 
and went to help in the " filling of the cup." In effect the 
Bill would have authorised an evicted tenant in Ireland to 
regain his farm over the landlord's head by decree of the 
Estates Commissioners, if the landlord had acted " un- 
reasonably " in the eviction. For a time Liberal concern 


for Ireland occupied itself with the Royal Commission on 
Financial Relations between Ireland and Great Britain, 
which was designed to remove from the path of the next 
Home Rule Bill a difficulty which had greatly impeded 
the two Bills of Mr Gladstone. A Registration Acceleration 
Bill (which incidentally gave one more chance for the 
Woman Suffragists to advance their claims) was dropped. 
In spite of their apparent truculence, the House of Lords 
chose this year to pass the principle of " betterment " 
against which they had stood firm until now. The com- 
mittee was composed of such peers as Lord Halsbury, Lord 
Salisbury, Lord Egerton of Tatton, Lord Belper and Lord 
Onslow ; it is evident that the principle must have made 
considerable headway with the general public. This 
removed the final difficulty in the completion of the Tower 
Bridge, by making possible an adequate approach from 
the south side; the bridge itself was finished and was 
formally opened in June. 

From time to time during 1894 South African affairs 
came disturbingly into view. The British South Africa 
Company had been engaged in war with the Matabele, and 
the dual position of Mr Cecil Rhodes, who was now Prime 
Minister of Cape Colony as well as managing director of 
the Chartered Company, was apt to lead to situations in 
which he appeared to be using the authority of the one 
office to advance the interests of the other. He had cast a 
glamour over the British public ; his vigorous imagination 
had made so vivid the idea of a British South Africa, 
" which must ultimately mean the whole region south of 
the Zambesi," 1 that it appeared as almost an established 
national policy. Consequently when in the summer the 
question of the status of British subjects in the 
Transvaal was raised again, the Boers found themselves 
addressed less as the independent nation which'they were 
in their own eyes than as a population which was rather 
1 The Times, 2oth June 1 894. 


obstinately delaying a general federation of South Africa. 
A " Transvaal National Union " was set on foot, to demand 
the franchise for all foreigners resident in the Transvaal ; 
and its proceedings were strong enough to bring upon it 
a temperate reminder from England that the grant of the 
franchise must, by all international custom, deprive its 
members of their previous nationality, a dilemma little 
to their taste, since serious trouble had but just been 
avoided this year by the abandonment of the Boer claim 
to the right of " commandeering " alien residents. If 
they ceased to be aliens, there would be no grounds for 
refusing military service. The situation in the Transvaal 
in general had been so much upset by the numbers of 
immigrants in connection with the mines, and by the vast 
wealth which those mines enabled a section of the foreign 
population to wield, that President Kruger was requesting, 
as yet without any aggressive tone, a revision of the con- 
stitution established by the Convention of London. 

In the autumn the licensing sessions of the London 
County Council produced more shocks for the re- 
spectable. The growth of the taste for music halls has 
already been noted more than once. The placing of the 
licensing authority for such halls in the hands of the 
council brought a new spirit of criticism to bear upon 
them. The kind of human traffic which could be left 
unanalysed or at any rate was left unanalysed among 
the various elements that made up the attractions of the 
old " gardens " of Vauxhall and Ranelagh and Cremorne 
became somewhat too obvious in the more confined spaces 
of a music hall. Moreover certain specific performances, 
especially in this year the presentations of " Living 
Pictures " on the stage, once they had definitely shocked 
some people, could hardly be passed over in silence at 
licensing sessions. But prudery is easily pushed into an 
ugly and unpopular position, and, on the whole, public 
opinion sided with the music halls ; the latter, too wise to 


be defiant, moderated their customs enough to tide over 
the attack of the champions of morality. 

Another kind of alarm worried the middle class, in 
respect to its pockets. In January the Manchester Ship 
Canal was opened, but without any enthusiasm from 
those who had subscribed the millions sunk in its con- 
struction. Early hopes had been dashed by the great 
discrepancy between the estimated and the actual cost 
of the work ; and the enterprise was now felt to be 
launched rather in faith than in hope. For the general 
investing public, the South African booms, first in gold 
mines, and secondly in chartered company projects, had 
produced a very speculative market in which the com- 
pany promoter had gone to work. The consequence was 
that, in a time not otherwise bad for trade, millions were 
being lost every year ; the report of the Inspector- 
General in Liquidation published this year showed that 
in 1892 the public had lost no less than twenty-five 
millions by investments in more or less fraudulent com- 
panies. The Board of Trade once more set up an inquiry 
into company law. 

Another activity of that Board marks the practical 
development at last of an enterprise which we found 
making several false starts in the early eighties. The 
time had arrived for considering seriously the regula- 
tions which Government should apply to the establish- 
ment of electric traction on tramways ; and the Board of 
Trade called various experts in consultation. Ten years 
earlier the propulsion of trams by transmission of current 
from overhead wires to motors on the car had been 
successfully achieved in Kansas City, U.SA. Here was 
the idea which obviated all the old difficulties, alike of 
carrying stored power in cells and laying down " live " 
rails. But no example of its use occurred in England 
until November 1891, when the Roundhay Electric 
Tramway at Leeds, five and a half miles in length, was 


opened. It was owned by the corporation, but leased 
to a company. Its success was now established, and 
immense developments of the principle were so certain 
that the Government regulations of this year set free 
an abundant stream of enterprise. Municipalities which 
already owned tramways set to work to convert them to 
the new system ; and those which did not found a fresh 
incentive to purchase the undertakings of private com- 
panies, since electricity now promised efficient, clean, 
quiet and cheap traction. The London County Council 
at once advanced its purchase schemes energetically, and 
they became prominent in municipal history, because the 
council based its terms of purchase on a calculation of 
what it would have had to spend to construct the tramway, 
a basis which was bitterly attacked as unfair to the com- 
panies. At the very last moment, so to speak, of tramway 
development, one more invention of a different kind of 
propulsion made its appearance. It is of less interest 
as a belated tramway invention than as a sign of the 
influence of the internal combustion motor. It was a 
gas-driven tramcar, using engines of the Otto type, 
exploding gas in the piston-cylinders by means of an 
electric spark. 

England was still watching helplessly the advance of 
motor-car invention abroad. From her own roads such 
cars were banned. The chief centre of activity was 
France, where several firms were now showing what 
astonishing power and force internal combustion engines 
could produce. In this year a race of motor cars from 
Paris to Rouen was organised, and the results gave a 
great impetus to the industry. 

In December, Robert Louis Stevenson died at the 
height of a fame in England which, however much it may 
have been intensified by the knowledge of his gallant, 
even gay, struggle against fatal illness, was genuine and 
not sentimental. He brought the frank adventure-book 


back to the shelf from which, since the death of Mayne 
Reid, it had been pushed down by the new analytical 
school and reduced to the level of " books for boys," a 
shelf which in January of this year suffered a loss in the 
death of R. M. Ballantyne. Stevenson had the gift of 
impressing romance upon the streets and the daily life of 
a great modern city ; and had really prepared the ground 
upon which Sherlock Holmes was at this time flourishing. 
It was, however, rather to his known fight with mortal 
disease than to intrinsic merit that his essays owed their 
vogue ; they had the appeal of one who looks on at life. 
At the same time, their self-conscious grace of style com- 
mended them to a middle class still a little conceited 
about its newly acquired artistic appreciation. The year 
witnessed also the death of the greatest, though the 
obscurest, of the prophets of the new appreciation. 
Walter Pater died on 30th July. He had exercised a 
very great influence on many generations of Oxford 
youth, and there could be no clearer symptom of the 
general uneasiness of the bourgeois at the moment than 
the guarded tone of The Times in its obituary notice of 
him. " That his influence was always healthful," The 
Times remarked, 1 " we do not pretend to say." A school 
of thought which had but recently enunciated the pro- 
position that a colour-sense was more important to the 
development of the individual than a sense of right and 
wrong, and was continually enunciating propositions of 
a similar kind, had appeared a positive devastation to the 
respectable mind of the country. Pater's true relation 
to this school was as much misapprehended as Pusey's 
relation had been to what the same kind of persons had 
thought an earlier devastation emanating from Oxford. 
Just as Pusey, remote, ascetic, severe, lived in pious 
practices far from the extravagances of the Ritualist 
movement, so Pater, equally remote, equally pious and 
^ist July 1894. 


equally stern in personal habit, looked as from a distant 
height upon the curious twists given to his devoutly 
passionate theory of an existence infinitely sensitive and 
responsive. Yet, inasmuch as he was associated in the 
popular mind with the extremes that were rampant at 
the moment, it was a happy thing for him that he did not 
live to see the year which was to follow. 



FROM the various undercurrents which were 
affecting the mind of the solid classes of the 
country, as well as from its own shortcomings, the 
Liberal Government now suffered. It had never been 
firmly seated. It possessed a Gladstonian, and not a 
generally Liberal, majority. It was genuinely in touch 
with the Home Rule movement, but very imperfectly 
in touch with advanced reforming feeling in Great Britain. 
It did real disservice by producing a throw-back in the 
growing readiness of the labour organisations to believe 
in parliamentary action. Yet at the same time it had 
a vague militancy which seemed to attach it to the 
spirit of social change and upheaval, regarded by solid 
minds with anxiety, and even with terror. It produced 
sweeping measures ; its relations with the House of 
Lords had aspects which lent themselves to charges of 
promoting class hatred. Little though the Government 
had been able to achieve, it still aroused nervousness ; 
and its practical powerlessness under the House of Lords 
was, so far from reassuring the nervous, a source of 
uneasiness. The launching of projects which were 
destined to no fulfilment seemed to threaten a dangerous 
exasperation of Radicals and Socialists. The Socialists 
and Radicals, on their side, irritated by the existence 
in office of a party which, concentrating its idealism in 
Mr Gladstone, had perforce shared his limitations, spoke 
louder and louder in the effort to gain a hearing for 
the new demands, an understanding of the new forces. 



Mr Gladstone had never distinguished them from -the 
Liberalism which he was accustomed to find at his 

One man who could recognise these things was Lord 
Randolph Churchill. If his career had developed to the 
full, the democratic feeling which reached its triumph in 
1906 might have been earlier in the field. The damage done 
to his career by the presence of new men on his side after 
the Home Rule split was not solely, or even principally, 
due to the fact that one of them was Mr Goschen. It 
was much more due to the fact that one of them was 
Mr Chamberlain. He brought into the alliance of Con- 
servatives and Unionists a kind of democratic feeling 
which " blanketed " the much more real feeling of Lord 
Randolph Churchill. Mr Chamberlain's Radicalism was 
of that middle-class kind which, disturbing enough in 
1880 to a party of landlords, had become by 1888 almost 
Conservative in its distinction from the newly grown 
popular demands. It was taken, so to speak, as a homoeo- 
pathic dose against Lord Randolph Churchill. He, more 
true to his class than his fellows were, maintained the old 
spirit of dislike of the manufacturers. The changes of ten 
years had brought the landlord and the manufacturer 
together behind his back. The aristocracy was in trade. 
Scions of great houses acting as touts for business firms 
provided material for Punch to satirise ; but the more 
profound truth was that the vast extension of the limited 
liability principle in trading, advertised as it had been 
by Stock Exchange booms, had brought the aristocracy 
as well as the professional classes, and the upper middle 
classes generally, into one large new division of the 
population the " absentee employer " class. Savings 
and surplus income went no longer into Government 
securities ; they went into industrial and trading stocks ; 
and thus the labour question was no longer one between 
workmen and a distinct class of masters of industry, but 


between trade unions and the whole conglomerate mass 
of investors, who were in effect absentee employers. 
Hence Mr Chamberlain's idea of what was democratic 
had become, since it was a manufacturer's idea, the 
kind of sop which the propertied public could endure to 
see administered ; while Lord Randolph Churchill's sense 
of a duty to the workman belonged to the old landlord 
spirit. Lord Randolph Churchill might have recovered 
his ground ; but in the very years in which his rival was 
advancing his health gave way. A certain wildness 
crept into his too unrelated appearances in public, and 
no one would believe that he had outgrown the slashing 
days of the Fourth Party. For some time now he had 
ceased to be a force in political life, and on 24th January 
in this year he died. 

Parliament met dejectedly, with a taste of stale gun- 
powder on its tongue. During the winter, members of 
the Government had tried to rouse some feeling in the 
country against the House of Lords ; but no explosion 
had followed, and the result was that when the Govern- 
ment was accused of staying in office for the sake of 
office, knowing that the country was not with it, its 
followers had little choice but to accept this dispiriting 
view. The Government's weakness increased the appear- 
ance of foolhardy violence in proposals that came before 
Parliament. A London Valuation and Assessment Bill, 
presented by the London County Council, altering the 
whole law of assessment in order to provide a common 
basis for imperial and local taxation, fell inevitably under 
the ban of the Speaker, on the ground that such a drastic 
change was not proper matter for a private Bill. It was 
a belated offspring of certain ideas embodied in the 
Newcastle programme 1 ; and so was the Plural Voting 
Bill, introduced by the Government, providing that all 
elections should take place on one day, and that no man 
1 See p. 300. 


should vote in more than one constituency. A private 
member's Bill to put an end to nomination, by the Lord 
Lieutenant to the Lord Chancellor, of persons for appoint- 
ment as Justices of the Peace was another drastic pro- 
posal. It arose out of a controversy which had raged 
somewhat hotly in 1893, the Tories accusing the Liberal 
Lord Chancellor of flagrant party spirit in such appoint- 
ments (he was said in April 1893 to have appointed 
four hundred and thirty-three borough magistrates, of 
whom four hundred and one were Home Rulers), and the 
Liberals had replied by complaining that, even so, it was 
impossible to give their side a fair proportion on the 
Bench. This was, however, hardly a fit matter for a weak 
Liberal party to handle by legislation. The Local Veto 
Bill still hung in the air, as did the Welsh Disestablishment 
Bill. A Factory Bill, the chief object of which was more 
stringent inspection of factories employing women, and 
stricter regulation of their hours, brought upon itself 
criticism from two directions. Women Suffragists at- 
tacked it as likely to diminish the employment of women ; 
and the Irish party attacked it because by including 
laundries l it necessitated inspection of convent laundries ; 
this in the end caused the Bill to be dropped. This job 
lot of Bills was accompanied by a similar job lot of debates. 
Unemployment had recurred with some severity, especially 
in the building trade and in agriculture. The new spread 
of education was causing inquiries about the system of 
appointments in the Civil Service, which still depended 
upon nomination, and there was a debate on this subject. 
A motion to keep out foreign prison-made goods, a 
tentative scheme by the London County Council for 
beginning the purchase of the Water Companies' under- 
takings in London, an attempt made by the Lancashire 
members to have continuous High Court sittings in 

1 A disastrous fire at a laundry in January had brought out the 
fact that laundries were not under the Factory Acts. 


Lancashire all these took their turn and disappeared. 
The last mentioned was a project not without consider- 
able support at this period. In 1892 there was a weighty 
body of opinion in favour of a sweeping decentralisation 
of High Court administration ; not only Manchester, 
but Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield and Leeds might, 
it was thought, be given permanent sittings of High 
Court judges. Another legal proposal in 1895 was for the 
appointment of a Public Trustee. There had been some 
serious defalcations by solicitors, and five at once were 
struck off the rolls in March. Both the Liberal Lord 
Chancellor of the time and the Conservative Lord Chan- 
cellor of the last Government were in favour of the 
appointment of a Public Trustee. Two subjects which 
had a hold on the general mind took no shape in Par- 
liament. One was elementary education, which was 
becoming a very controversial matter between Voluntary 
and Board schools ; and the other was old age pensions. 
The committee on the latter 1 reported in April; the 
report was a complex production, including a majority 
and a minority report, and a great number of individual 
memoranda. The minority, headed by Mr Chamberlain, 
wished to recommend a contributory system of old age 
pensions ; the majority contented themselves with making 
little more than a statement of the problem of the aged 
poor, and recommending certain changes in the method 
of administering out -relief. 

The feebleness of the House of Commons, the public 
knowledge of the Government's futility, were not the only 
reasons for the complete lack of interest in parliamentary 
proceedings. Two affairs, each in its different way 
serious enough, were distracting people's minds. In 
April the world of solid respectable citizenship, which 
had for years suffered in baffled rage the scorn and the 
airy superiority of the aesthete and the artist, came to a 
1 See p. 320. 


grim, and for the time startling, revenge. Mr Oscar 
Wilde, at the conclusion of an action for criminal libel 
which he brought against Lord Queensberry, and lost, 
was arrested on charges which the plain man took as 
ample confirmation of the plain man's position that no 
one can make a jest of morality and respectability without 
some flaw in his own morals. The case against Mr Wilde 
was, of course, no real indictment of sestheticism, but it 
was the end of the aesthete as he had been felt for fifteen 
years in social life. It was also lamentably the end of a 
very brilliant writer. At the moment of Mr Wilde's arrest 
two comedies by him were being played simultaneously in 
London, and one of them, The Importance of Being Earnest, 
had revealed in him a genius not only for clothing his 
comedies in unfailing wit, but for essentially comic 
construction. In his assertion of the function of criticism, 
and in his richly varied vocabulary, lay his chief artistic 
claim. In his social gifts of wit and swiftness lay his 
most lasting effects. The widespread modern capacity 
for " taking things with a light hand," the distaste for 
solemn attitudes and obvious statements, the easy 
carrying of personal attainments, which formerly had 
taken some generations of high breeding to produce, 
may be largely traced to Oscar Wilde's influence. The 
particular form of wit for which he was most famous, 
the paradoxical epigram, was not exclusively his ; 
Whistler was even more brilliant at producing it. But 
its combination with genuinely social gifts, which Whistler 
had not, makes Wilde's career the more interesting. He 
bore a large part in a readjustment of values in life which 
survived his own fall. The crash of the fall certainly 
affected the whole spirit of this year. There were few 
great houses in London where he was not known ; fewer 
still where there was not among the younger generation 
an aggressive, irresponsible intolerance which had some 
relation, however vague, to his brilliant figure. Even 


athleticism rejoiced at this date to dissociate itself from 
anything that might have been in danger of easy approval 
from an older generation, by being also aesthetic ; captains 
of university football teams had been seen with long hair. 
There was too much of real revolt in the movement to 
allow the fate of one man to hold it lastingly in check ; 
but a certain silence, almost, if not quite, shamefaced, 
settled for the moment on much of the social life of the 
country, and this had its part in the obvious impulse, 
when the General Election came, to return to safe 
" English " ground in every possible direction. 

The other affair, which took much attention, especially 
as the year drew on, was a heavy slump in South 
African stocks and shares. The immense fortunes which 
had been made in that country had rather upset London. 
The diamond magnate and the gold magnate were build- 
ing palaces for themselves in the West End, and setting, 
so to speak, a financial pace which took London's breath 
away. Speculation increased enormously. Society rushed 
to the new form of gambling ; women who had never 
seen " the City " went off in hansoms after breakfast 
to consult their brokers ; gilded youths in clubs of an 
afternoon turned the evening papers at once to the list 
of Stock Exchange quotations. Rich men with no other 
passport into society were asked to dinner on the chance 
that they might have good speculative tips to give. 
What had caused a more acute run on South African 
ventures was the shadiness at the moment of industrial 
stocks. The misguided energies of the company pro- 
moter were referred to in a recent chapter. 1 The 
report of the Committee on Company Law, which was 
published in August of this year, showed that the limited 
liability capital in Great Britain in 1894 was no less than 
1,035,029,835, while in France similar capital was only 
about 400,000,000, and in Germany 300,000,000. This 
1 See p. 358. 


comparison caused the committee to decide that it must 
be careful not to disturb unnecessarily the employment 
of wealth, and to remember that prudence and business- 
like use of wealth could not be inculcated by law. It 
therefore declined to recommend any of the drastic 
provisions which had been suggested as to double regis- 
tration, or a compulsory reserve liability, and confined 
itself to recommendations as to disclosure of the ven- 
dor's name and his price, and as to statutory meetings. 
But indeed recent events in the industrial market, and 
some severe writing down of capital, were enough to 
produce prudence for the moment in that market. The 
consequent rush to the South African stocks was followed 
by a serious slump, and what was nearly a panic on 
the Stock Exchange. The situation was saved by the 
intervention of some of the magnates, notably Mr 
Barnato, who stepped in, and bought freely, just in time 
to prevent a finally disastrous sagging of prices. There 
was nothing wrong with the gold industry itself. On the 
contrary, everything pointed to the Rand mines being 
far more valuable than anyone had at first supposed. 
A report made in 1893 had placed the value of the reefs 
at 315,000,000, which meant that all difficulties from 
shortage of gold supply, and the prospect of a complete 
revaluation of the world's currency, were removed for 
at least a generation or two. The gold output of the 
Rand in 1895 was between 150,000 and 200,000 oz. a 
month. The slump therefore was not due to any failure 
or overestimation of the wealth of the gold mines. It 
turned out, before the year was past, to be the beginning 
of trouble of a more threatening kind. 

Parliament pursued its uninteresting way until the 
third week in June. It passed with reluctance a vote 
of 80,000 for a new Colonial possession, Uganda, which 
the British East Africa Company had left, like a foundling, 
on the doorstep of the Government. The Government 



had also recovered its reputation in the matter of Jabez 
Balfour, the absconding head of the Liberator Society. 1 
After two years of the most ingenious proceedings he 
had at length been extradited by the Argentine Govern- 
ment, and was landed in England and brought up at Bow 
Street early in May. From time to time since the begin- 
ning of 1893 reports had reached home that his extra- 
dition was granted ; each time an appeal had followed, and 
all sorts of delays had spun out the proceedings. The last 
ingenuity had been the discovery that in the province of 
Argentina, where he was living, there was a law that a 
plaintiff with a monetary claim against anyperson possessed 
the right to prevent that person from leaving the province ; 
after the decision of the Supreme Court at Buenos Ayres 
confirming the extradition order, a plaintiff had lodged 
such a claim against Jabez Balfour. The matter came to 
debate in the House of Commons in March 1895, and the 
Government had some uncomfortable moments attempting 
to defend its having allowed the man to leave the country 
some months after the Liberator Society suspended 
payment. But, after all, the last defence against extra- 
dition was a weak one ; payment of the claim broke it 
down at once, and the fugitive was brought to justice. 
He was sentenced in November to fourteen years' penal 
servitude ; but the case turned on such intricacies of 
financial operations, and the disaster to the poorer public, 
now largely repaired by the Relief Fund, was so far past, 
that the final stages of the case excited little interest. 
However, if the Government had failed to bring him to 
justice, there would have been interest enough to turn 
votes. There were not many places in England which 
had not some instance of the effects of the Liberator 

The Government took the first possible exit from its 
position. The Army Estimates of the year were interest- 
1 See page 326. 


ing, because at last the abolition of the post of Commander- 
in-Chief, which many reformers had desired for years, 
was in sight. A commission over which the Duke of 
Devonshire, then still Lord Hartington, had presided in 
1888, had reported in 1890 in favour of the abolition of 
the post. But the difficulty in the way of carrying out 
the report was that the Commander-in-Chief was the 
Duke of Cambridge, and his royal blood, his venerable 
but vigorous old age, and his undoubted services and 
devotion to the army, made the task peculiarly delicate. 
It had at last been managed, and the statement on the 
Army Estimates of the year announced the fact. But no 
one imagined the estimates to be so important that the 
Government would go out on them. A division on 
the supply of cordite in reserve was carried against the 
Government by 132 to 125, and they resigned. The Welsh 
Disestablishment Bill, which was in committee at the 
time, expired. Lord Salisbury took office, and formed 
the first Government in which Liberal Unionists and 
Conservatives coalesced. There was still lack of cordiality 
on the Conservative side. Mr Chamberlain had cast a 
vote for Welsh Disestablishment which rankled in Tory 
minds, and there was some criticism of the number of posts 
which had gone in the new Government to Unionists. 
A more acute criticism, which might have been re- 
called ten years later, was made by Sir Henry Ho worth, 
who pleaded for fusion and not coalition on the ground 
that the existence of separate organisations would leave 
open a gulf which might widen. 1 In view of the important 
part played in the Tariff Reform agitation by the existence 
of separate electoral organisations for Conservatives and 
Unionists, this plea appears singularly prescient. But in 
1895 all that was required seemed to be provided by Mr 
Chamberlain's announcement that he would not in the 
new Parliament issue separate whips to his supporters. 
1 Letter to The Times, 2/th June 1895: 


The election was a disastrous one for the Liberals. 
At its outset the chief line of attack upon them was the 
revolutionary nature of their proposals ; and in spite of 
the fact that in no one of the most frequently quoted 
instances had they achieved any success, Home Rule, 
Welsh Disestablishment, Local Veto, and the abolition 
of the House of Lords made a sufficiently alarming list 
for platform purposes. Early in the contest Mr Morley 
was defeated at Newcastle and Sir William Harcourt 
at Derby ; Home Rule and Local Veto were the easily 
assigned causes in the respective cases. The Independent 
Labour Party sustained blow after blow ; Mr Keir 
Hardie was beaten, and so were Mr Hyndman and Dr 
Pankhurst, and in fact almost all their candidates. Mr 
John Burns just managed to retain his seat. By the end 
of July the new Parliament was complete, with 411 
Conservatives and Liberal Unionists, and only 259 
Liberals and Irish Nationalists a majority of 152. The 
Liberal Unionist forces had risen again, and stood at 71. 

The fall of the Independent Labour party was curious. 
Trade Unionism certainly showed no weakening. One 
of its most far-reaching demands that of the eight-hours 
day had been strengthened by the results of practical 
experiments made by two great firms, Mather & Platt 
in the engineering trade, and Brunner, Mond & Co. in the 
chemical trade. The former made a year's experiment ; 
the latter had just finished a six-years' experiment. 
The former reported a fractional increase in the wages 
bill, balanced by a saving in wear and tear, lighting, etc., 
a marked diminution in the percentage of lost time, and 
a healthier and keener body of workmen. The latter 
reported that the slight increase at first in the wage bill 
had disappeared, and that the effect on the sobriety, 
regularity and health of the men was excellent. The 
Trade Union Congress of this year showed no real slacken- 
ing of the general Labour movement. The Seamen's 


Union, damaged by violent and unsuccessful strikes, 
had dropped in membership from 80,000 to 6000, but 
the membership of the congress showed a decline of only 
20,000. The congress passed resolutions in favour of 
the nationalisation of land, minerals and railways by 
specifying these sources of wealth, it was distinctly 
reconsidering its general adherence to socialism and of 
the placing of docks under municipal authority. This 
year, as it happened, had brought a curious tribute to 
the lasting success of the men in the London Dock strike. 
The secretary of the London Docks had written to the 
papers to say that casual labour there had now sunk to 
2 per cent, of the whole ; a new system was in operation 
by which notices were posted every night, giving state- 
ments of the number of men that would be wanted for 
work the next day. Trade Unionism had no reason in 
the general outlook to feel weakened. At this time 
even the National Union of Teachers was considering 
joining the congress, and though no proposal came up for 
discussion at its annual meeting, it was remarked that 
the teachers showed the true Union bent in their objection 
to any relaxation of the rules of entrance to the profession. 
The explanation of the Labour downfall at the election 
probably was that in the general futility of the Liberal 
term of office the fresh tendency towards reliance upon 
parliamentary action had received a check; and at the 
same time the erratic and unimportant tendency to 
violence had rendered the Labour programme liable to 
misrepresentation . 

The organisation of women's labour was greatly for- 
warded in 1895 by the establishment of the National 
Union of Women Workers. It was not in the technical 
sense a trade union, and its relations to the various 
branches and societies affiliated to it were left very loose. 
But by providing a centre through which all information 
as to women's labour, all cases of hardship and under- 


payment, all local efforts of organisation and combination, 
could be given a voice, it promoted enormously the 
interests of labouring women. Those interests had 
recently been officially recognised by the appointment 
of a woman, Miss Collet, among the labour correspondents 
of the Board of Trade. A report by her, published in this 
year, showed that, contrary to the general opinion, 
employment of women in industry had not very largely 
increased. In the census of 1881, 34-05 per cent, of girls 
and women over ten years of age were returned as 
occupied ; in that of 1891 the figures were 34 - 42 per cent. 
The number of domestic servants had actually decreased ; 
and in clerkships the numbers of women employed had 
not advanced nearly so fast as the numbers of men. 

The death of Professor Huxley occurred at the end of 
June. The controversies with which his name had become 
most commonly associated had ended some time before. 
Already people had begun to see that the evolutionary 
theory had its place in the intellectual world, but need 
not drive out other philosophies. In its early days the 
theory was a sort of fetish. It had been just sufficiently 
within the understanding of the ordinary mind to 
be misused. Advanced as an hypothesis, it had been 
taken by minds unaccustomed to the scientific uses of 
hypothesis as almost a statement of fact. An age still 
ringing with ecclesiastical and theological controversies 
seized the new weapons ; and men " who were trying to 
explain why the giraffe's neck grew long, found themselves 
called upon to say how heaven and earth came out of 
chaos." 1 What is astonishing to a later generation is 
not only the eagerness with which the theory was used, 
but the universal attention which was paid to the religious 
controversy. Its later manifestations the battle between 
Professor Huxley and Dr Wace in the pages of The 
Nineteenth Century, for instance had perhaps shown 
1 The Times, ist July 1895.- 


signs of the shrinking of interest ; and by the time of 
Huxley's death such engagements would only have 
appealed to a very restricted public. 

In the summer, rather too late to be fully lionised, 
a man came to London bringing with him an even more 
adventurous atmosphere than that which had surrounded 
Stanley five years before. He was Slatin Pasha, an 
Austrian, who had been governor of the Soudanese 
province of Darfur at the time of the Mahdist rising. 
Taken prisoner by the Mahdi, he had spent eight months 
in chains, and after that, eleven years always in the 
circle of the Khalifa's bodyguard at Omdurman, the 
city which the Khalifa had established for himself on 
the opposite bank of the Nile from Khartoum. Slatin 
Pasha had escaped at last, and his worn figure, bearing 
the signs of his captivity, was the first breaking of the 
silence which since 1885 had encompassed the Soudan. 
Here was a man who could tell the world the conditions 
of the Khalifa's rule, who could give information as to 
its extent, the provinces he yet held, and those, like 
Darfur and Bahr-el-Ghazal, which he had abandoned. 
To England generally Slatin was a personage of romance. 
To the Government at home and the authorities in 
Egypt he was much more ; and the idea of the reconquest 
of the Soudan took a new vitality For the present, 
however, the finances of Egypt seemed to be engaged. 
The growing prosperity of the country had made prac- 
ticable the idea of a large scheme of irrigation, involving 
the construction of a great barrage at Assouan ; this was 
given the preference over military operations, and it was 
announced that there was no immediate prospect of the 
British Government consenting to a Soudan expedition. 

This summer witnessed a renewal of that rivalry 
between the great railway lines to the North which had 
been an excitement in 1888. 1 This year the goal was 
1 See[p. 235. 


Aberdeen, instead of Edinburgh, and by 29th July 
(the racing began on 1st July) the West Coast time 
for the journey was ten hours and five minutes, and 
the East Coast time ten hours and twenty-three minutes. 
The normal time hitherto had been on the West Coast 
route eleven hours, fifty minutes, and on the East Coast 
route eleven hours, thirty-five minutes. For two months 
the contest went on, until by the end of August the West 
Coast had actually cut its time down to eight hours, 
thirty-two minutes, or little more than the best record 
for the run to Edinburgh in the earlier race. This meant 
an average speed over the whole 540 miles of 63 miles an 
hour, and a maximum speed of 74 miles an hour was 
attained at some points. The best maximum of the East 
Coast was 66*7 miles an hour. The race, of course, had 
little relation to ordinary railway work ; it involved 
cleared lines, and a dislocation of the usual traffic which 
could not long be tolerated. But it was a glorious affair 
for the onlooker, and it left behind it some acceleration 
of journeying in the normal time-table. The speed was 
the more notable in that by this time dining cars and 
corridor coaches, with all their extra weight, were in 
general use on the large Northern lines. 

It is no insignificant proof of the change of feeling in 
1895 that Trilby took the country by storm. Its author, 
George du Maurier, used to express his bewilderment at 
the vogue of the book ; and one who had been occupied, 
as he had been for thirty years, in representing week by 
week for the pages of Punch the passing foibles of the 
English, may well have been astonished. What was 
there, he might ask himself, in his gentle story to charm 
a world which, when not sophisticated, was still strict, 
even a little prim, in its outlook, and when not rich enough 
to be absorbed in money, was chiefly absorbed in athletics ? 
The main part of the secret was, no doubt, that the story 
was genuinely charming ; but some of its success may 


also have been due to the time of its publication. On 
the one hand, reaction against languid cleverness made 
people ready to enjoy the youthful romance of du Maurier's 
book. On the other hand, the relaxing of conventions, 
the altered ideas of what was genuinely immoral, the 
saner judgments, the greater personal freedom which, 
with all its faults, the aesthetic movement had helped 
to bring about, had the effect of giving entrance to the 
book in a thousand homes where ten years earlier it 
would not have been accepted. In this latter respect 
Trilby is, however, only one sign (though perhaps the 
most striking one) of a change of thought. In the other 
respect, that of its reception by the sophisticated world, 
it falls little short of a historical event. People who had 
made so complete a surrender to a book entirely devoid 
of pose or perverseness could hardly return to the old 
superior attitudes. Trilby did, in fact, break down a 
kind of angularity which aestheticism had been producing, 
and people became less afraid of acknowledging that they 
liked a book or a picture or a poem for no particular reason. 
Both as a book and in dramatic form at the Haymarket 
Theatre, Trilby was one of the great events of the year. 
It was in general a time of somewhat mild flavours in 
literature. A year or two earlier J. M. Barrie's Auld 
Licht Idylls had set a fashion, of which other Scottish 
writers were quick to take advantage. The sentimental 
air of the " kail -yard school " blew over the libraries. 
That school and Miss Marie Corelli divided at this period 
the affections of the great middle class. Equally senti- 
mental was the taste of the moment for coon songs. 
Miss May Yohe, at the summit of her fame, was singing 
haunting melodies in a patch of limelight on the stage 
of musical comedy ; and " Honey, my Honey," and 
" Linger Longer Loo " were running in the heads of most 
young men, and not a few young women. 

The high-water mark of the passion for cycling was 


surely reached in this year, when permission was given 
for cyclists to ride in Hyde Park, though during the season 
they were confined to the hours before ten o'clock in the 
morning and after seven o'clock in the evening. Since 
the old high bicycle had disappeared, and the new type 
of cycle had made the pastime possible for women to 
indulge in, the slightly ridiculous figure cut by the cyclist 
had ceased to exist. The pneumatic tyre and a better 
knowledge of gearing made the machine easy and com- 
fortable to ride ; and as motor cars were not yet in use 
it was also the most rapid means of road-travelling. 
Doctors took advantage of the craze in order to make 
people take exercise. The result was that, in this year 
and the next, cycling was not only the great Saturday 
afternoon amusement of the worker, and the new resource 
of people living in the country, but was also the fashion 
in town. Mayfair abandoned its morning canter for a 
few turns round the Park on a bicycle, and even went so 
far afield as to Battersea Park, where the restriction 
of hours did not exist ; breakfasts in Battersea Park 
became the new adventure. Meanwhile cycling had 
equally captured the athlete, and long-distance races 
and twenty-four-hour races were frequent. 

The new Government settled itself quietly into place. 
Mr Chamberlain, for whom rumour had proposed various 
posts, including that of Secretary for War, had taken, 
somewhat to the surprise of the country, the Colonial 
Office, not hitherto a department in which reputations 
were made. It was not long before he caused it to be 
known that appointments under the Colonial Office were 
no longer going to be at the easy disposal of patronage l ; 
and a more compact co-operation between the different 
portions of the Empire was aimed at in his circular 
despatch to all colonial governments, asking for dis- 
cussion of the possibility of increasing their trade with 
1 The Times, I2th November 1895: 


the mother country. No tariff suggestion was made ; 
the desire expressed was rather for more knowledge at 
home of the needs of colonial traders and of the demands 
which home manufacturers might be expected to meet. 
For the rest the Government's policy, as announced to the 
meeting of the National Union of Conservative Associa- 
tions, was firstly to set the supremacy of the British navy 
beyond question, and secondly to alter the rating system, 
so as to give some relief to agricultural interests. The 
third place was allotted to educational proposals ; but 
it was quite clear that this subject was going to be pressed 
forward from various directions with a vigour which would 
be ill satisfied with a third place. Early in the year a 
committee appointed by the two Archbishops to inquire 
into the condition of the voluntary schools had reported 
upon the increasing difficulty of meeting the demands 
of the education authorities in the matter of school 
accommodation, and efficiency of the teaching staff, out 
of voluntarily subscribed funds. As assistance from the 
rates would necessarily carry with it some form of public 
control of the schools, the committee agreed that the 
Church should rather ask aid from the Imperial Govern- 
ment, in the form of a general maintenance grant. 
Incidentally the committee remarked that the pressure 
on elementary schools was growing, because the curri- 
culum was now so good that many parents, who could 
afford to send their children elsewhere, were content 
with an elementary school. Lord Salisbury had taken 
an early opportunity of ranging himself on the side of the 
Voluntary schools, expressing the belief that they would 
outlast the Board schools 1 ; and the natural result was 
that, when he returned to power, the Church school 
authorities were ready to ply him with suggestions. 
Already the situation was so acute that on the clerical 
side the common way of regarding the School Board 
1 The Times, 22nd March 1895. 


system was to speak of it as competition with Church 
schools, and to think of it as unfair competition. 1 The 
report of the Commission on Secondary Education some- 
what turned attention from this particular question, 
because it proved to be a very sweeping document. It 
recommended the appointment of a Secretary of State 
for Education, so as to give the work the full status of a 
Cabinet office ; the setting-up of new local authorities, 
to be drawn partly from the county and borough councils, 
and partly by co-optation from experts outside those 
bodies ; and the endowing of these authorities with power 
to impose a twopenny rate for secondary, as well as purely 
technical, education, and power also to administer funds 
for building and equipping schools. It was the report of 
a commission appointed by a Liberal Government ; but the 
Duke of Devonshire had taken the office of Lord President 
of the Council in the new Government, which made him 
responsible for national education ; and he had long ago 
accepted a liberal view of what education should mean. 

During the autumn the solid citizen had more than one 
occasion to be thankful that he had restored to power a 
solid Government. In October a labour dispute broke 
out which seemed likely to rival in severity the greatest 
strikes of recent years. It began with a demand among 
the Clyde shipbuilding hands for an advance in wages. 
There had been a reduction during recent bad times, 
and, as the yards were now busy again, the men asked 
for an advance of two shillings a week. The masters 
admitted that business was better, but maintained that, 
as they were still carrying out contracts at the low prices 
of the bad times, they could not afford the advance. 
The Clyde men did not immediately proceed to a strike, 
but the Belfast men, who had joined in the demand, did 
so. Thereupon the Clyde masters, no doubt convinced 
that the strike was bound to spread, took the aggressive, 
1 The Times, 2ist November 1895. 


and locked their men out in the third week in October. 
For the remainder of the year the struggle continued, but 
in the closing days of December a settlement appeared in 
sight. At a conference in Glasgow the masters offered an 
advance of one shilling a week to commence in February, 
and stipulated that these terms should be unchallenged 
by the men for six months after that date. Although 
the men asked for the advance in January, and were 
disinclined to bind themselves for more than four months, 
the struggle seemed unlikely to continue. 

A short passage of strained relations with Belgium in 
October was less important for its cause than for its sequel. 
An Englishman named Stokes, engaged in trading in 
the Congo Free State, had been executed by a Belgian 
official, Captain Lothaire. The accusation made against 
Mr Stokes was of some evil-doing in his commerce with 
the natives; the gravamen of the British complaint 
was that, instead of allowing the accused man to exercise 
his undoubted right of appeal to the tribunals of the 
Congo State, Captain Lothaire had hanged him out of 
hand. The British Government insisted that, besides 
payment to the dead man's family of an indemnity of 
150,000 francs, reparation should include the bringing 
of Captain Lothaire to trial. But what the incident 
really brought upon the King of the Belgians was a sudden 
sharpening of suspicion as to the whole administration of 
the Congo territory. Hitherto there had been only a 
vague idea that the administration was not prosperous ; 
but the Stokes incident opened the way for those who 
knew something of the actual nature of that administra- 
tion. As yet the atrocities of the rubber trade seem to 
have been unknown ; but various articles published during 
this controversy with the Belgian authorities expressed 
grave distrust of the methods of the ivory trade. It was 
the beginning of the long task of letting light into a very 
dark place. 


Next, with some suddenness, a sharp tone began to 
appear in reference to the Transvaal. This was the more 
serious effect of the slump in gold-mining shares, which 
had caused such nervousness in England. As long as 
all went well at home, little attention was paid to the 
complaints of the settlers in the Transvaal. But now, 
remarkably coincident with the accession to power of the 
Conservative Government, came a change of tone. The 
Boers were reminded that complaints of insufficient police 
protection, of total neglect of educational facilities, and 
of general disregard of the interests of the Rand, could 
not properly be set aside, when they proceeded from an 
industry which provided nine-tenths of the revenues of 
the State, and had, moreover, transformed that State 
from a bankrupt community to a prosperous and thriving 
one. A disposition in France to regard the agitation of 
the Uitlanders' grievances as a preliminary to the usual 
British acquisition of territory added fuel to the fire ; 
and before the year ended, the situation was growing 

But even more suddenly a situation had arisen in quite 
another quarter which far outweighed this in gravity. 
A comparatively insignificant dispute with Venezuela, 
as to the boundary line between that country and British 
Guiana, was magnified into a threat of disastrous war 
by a wholly unexpected pronouncement from President 
Cleveland, to the effect that the United States claimed 
the right to a predominant voice in any territorial dispute 
on the American continent. " The Monroe Doctrine," 
on which the President's Message to Congress was based, 
was thus introduced to an astonished and angry England. 
The doctrine had been formulated by President Monroe 
in 1823 for the protection of the young South American 
republics against intervention, which at that time seemed 
probable, by Roman Catholic powers in Europe. That it 
should be thrust forward in the Venezuelan controversy 


amazed England ; and it was unfortunate, if absurd in a 
connection of such gravity, that two sporting events of 
this year had caused bad blood between Englishmen and 
Americans. At Henley Regatta, in July, an eight from 
Cornell University had been drawn against an eight of the 
Leander Club. There was a high wind on the day of the 
race, and, when the starter asked the crews if they were 
ready, he failed to hear from the Leander boat the reply 
that they were not ready. He started the race, and the 
Cornell boat went off alone. This roused a furious dis- 
cussion, and the Cornell crew were roundly accused of un- 
sportsmanlike conduct in not waiting for their rivals, when 
they saw them not ready for the start. In September Lord 
Dunraven sent over another yacht to challenge for the 
America Cup. He protested strongly against having to 
start the race amid a crowd of excursion steamers, which 
made the sailing of a racing yacht not only difficult, but 
risky ; and as no notice was taken of his protest he con- 
tented himself, when the third race came on, with formally 
crossing the starting line, and then turning his yacht 
immediately back. Of course such incidents as these 
were as much indications of existing bad feeling as causes 
of new irritation ; but the danger of them, when the 
Venezuela difficulty arose, was that they had made 
popular a sense of rancour and hostility. Lord Salisbury 
had given himself no sinecure when he returned, in his 
new Government, to the control of the Foreign Office. 
His presence there prevented any of that inflammation 
of public opinion which might easily at this juncture 
have forced the diplomatic situation. Lord Salisbury con- 
tented himself with the knowledge that the approach of 
a presidential election in the United States might account 
for a good deal ; and set himself to producing a way of 
escape for President Cleveland from a situation which 
had probably become rather more serious than he had 
intended it should be. 



NEW YEAR'S DAY brought most astonishing 
news. On 29th December a body of troops of the 
British South Africa Company, under the command 
of Dr Jameson, the Administrator of Mashonaland, had 
crossed the frontier of the Transvaal, on the way to give 
armed support to the residents in Johannesburg, who had 
been, it now appeared, banding themselves together against 
the Boer rule. With but vague recollections of com- 
plaints of Boer tyranny, yet a lively sense that this was 
no new quarrel, and that there were old sores between 
the Boers and the English, England generally took the 
news with some satisfaction; it served the Boers right. 
A letter was published, which had been sent from 
Johannesburg to Dr Jameson, saying that the wives and 
children of Englishmen there were in danger, and armed 
help must be despatched. There was no hesitation in 
believing this, though it implied a state of things of which 
no knowledge had yet become public. But at once it 
appeared that something was wrong. Mr Chamberlain 
from the Colonial Office instantly repudiated Dr Jameson 
and his men, and he called on the British South Africa 
Company to do the same. The High Commissioner in 
Cape Colony ordered the instant return of the force. 
On 3rd January it was announced that Dr Jameson had 
received, and disregarded, these messages, had pursued 
his course into the Transvaal, but, while bivouacking at 
a little place named Krugersdorp, had been surrounded 
by Boer commandos, and forced to surrender after a 



brief attempt at fighting. The invasion had turned into 
a raid. 

But how had it happened at all, men asked themselves. 
What had produced the explosion ? For certainly such 
hazy ideas as the ordinary Englishman had acquired of 
recent affairs in South Africa had not led him to suppose 
that blows were about to be dealt. There was not much 
satisfaction for the inquiring mind. It was clear that 
the Boers regarded the growing power of the Rand with 
dislike and suspicion, and their feelings led them into 
treating its residents intolerantly. Their attitude was 
dictated firstly by the belief that the English were deter- 
mined to filch their country, in order to make a compact 
whole of British South African territory ; and secondly 
by a confidence that they could frustrate any such schemes. 
Their fear led them, on every agitation of the Uitlanders' 
grievances, to take a stiffer attitude towards franchise 
demands, which they met with increasing conditions as to 
length of residence ; and towards complaints of insufficient 
attention to the Rand's requirements, which they treated 
as so many ingenious attempts to rouse feeling in 
England. Their confidence led them, on any sign of 
British enterprise in South Africa, to strengthen every 
resource they possessed and to improve their armaments. 
Thus the progressive occupation by the British of 
Bechuanaland, of the coast-line of Zululand, of Mashona- 
land and Matabeleland, had been taken as so many 
threats ; and the one outlet left to the Boers that by 
way of the Dutch railway to Loureno Marques grew 
the more precious. The railway became a weapon in 
President Kruger's hands ; and when the traders of Cape 
Colony, objecting to the freight prices charged in the 
Transvaal, took to convoying their goods by waggon into 
the country, the President closed the " drifts," or fords, 
of the Vaal River. A perpetual succession of expansions 
on the one side, and self-assertions on the other, had 



produced a situation in which neither side could move 
without adding to the other side's preconceptions. That 
the situation could have arisen with so little concurrent 
knowledge in England was due in great part to the posi- 
tion occupied by Mr Cecil Rhodes. As Premier of Cape 
Colony he was liable to the dissemination of such know- 
ledge of his policy as Blue Books afford. As director 
of the British South Africa Company he had, so to 
speak, an unsupervised range of action. He had a 
power-supply affixed to the main outside the meter. 

The news of the failure of Dr Jameson's attempt was 
followed by an incident which embittered British feeling. 
On 4th January it was announced that the German 
Emperor had telegraphed to President Kruger, con- 
gratulating him on repelling an armed force and main- 
taining the independence of his country. To the most 
sober-minded in England this was an inflammatory 
encouragement to the Boers to assert a liberty of 
action which, however futile the provisions of the Con- 
vention of 1884 may have been, was not officially accepted 
by Great Britain. To less sober minds it was a provoca- 
tive crow from a jealous rival in Europe. Luckily the 
Government was able to announce before many days had 
passed that President Kruger had waived his rights over 
Dr Jameson and his captured force, and had handed them 
over to Great Britain for trial. Leading members of the 
Uitlander community in Johannesburg were arrested, 
and remained in the Transvaal for trial. The British 
Government had not swerved an inch in its policy of 
repudiating the raid. Mr Rhodes was reported to have 
remarked lugubriously that Dr Jameson had " upset the 
apple-cart " ; and for the moment the whole episode 
settled down into an armed truce. 

This incident had thrown into the background the 
threatened quarrel with the United States ; Lord Salisbury 
had made soothing proposals for arbitration respecting 


the Venezuelan boundary ; and the alarm died down so 
rapidly that before the year was a fortnight old there was 
already a suggestion that the occasion might be seized upon 
to draft a general arbitration treaty between the two 
countries. The shipbuilding strike was settled before the 
end of January on the terms offered by the masters at the 
Glasgow conference. 1 The national revenue was recover- 
ing itself so handsomely that there was good prospect of a 
surplus for the Budget. On the whole the new Govern- 
ment entered on its first session with the confidence of 
men who had risen not unsuccessfully to trying occasions. 
The Opposition on their side foresaw the old familiar 
weaknesses to attack the customary Tory embroilment 
in complications abroad, the customary readiness to plunge 
into little wars (an expedition had started for Ashanti to 
bring to submission an unruly monarch) ; and as if to com- 
plete the case, there were again " Turkish atrocities " to 
revive the Gladstonian spirit. Massacres of Armenians 
were mounting to an appalling story. When Parliament 
met there was no lack of promise of domestic legislation. 
A new Irish Land Bill, an Education Bill, an Agricultural 
Rating Bill, and measures dealing with light railways, with 
friendly societies, with company law, and with Irish 
education were in the Government's list. But if the 
Ministry had had nothing but domestic legislation to 
handle they would have had a singularly comfortless time ; 
and to that extent the instincts of the Opposition were 
just. In affairs abroad lay the Government's main interest. 
The first work of the new Parliament was one more piece 
of tinkering with its own procedure. Mr Balfour proposed 
new rules for regulating Committee of Supply. This was 
the part of a Government's work which had offered the best 
target in the days of organised obstruction, because it 
could not be dropped, as any other piece of business might 
be. The worst effect of this was that supply had lost its 


importance; criticism of estimates had become, not a 
member's duty, but a suspect proceeding. Mr Balfour 
set up a time-limit, with no pretence of applying it in 
cases of urgency or obstruction, but as a normal method. 
Certain days were allotted for supply, and on the nine- 
teenth day money votes not yet passed were to be 
closured, and on the twentieth day the report stage was 
to be taken under closure. 

Before the end of February the principal offenders in the 
Jameson Raid were in England, and were brought up at 
Bow Street. These were Dr Jameson, Sir John Willoughby, 
and eleven others. The authorities, pursuing still their 
policy of repudiation, took pains to prevent anything like 
public demonstrations on the prisoners' behalf. The 
steamer on which they came home was brought round to 
the Thames, and in the lower reaches they were transferred 
to a launch which landed them unnoticed at Waterloo 
Pier. Until they came into the police court there was no 
chance of cheering them, but then the chance was taken, 
in spite of severe strictures on the indecorousness of such 
a display of feeling. The charge brought against the 
prisoners was that of unlawfully fitting out a military 
expedition against a friendly State. Now that the first 
surprised feelings were over, and the momentary satis- 
faction of the transfer of the offenders to Great Britain had 
cooled, a vigorous discussion of the terms of their surrender 
arose of the question whether the Johannesburgers had 
been induced to lay down their arms by the threat that 
the lives of Dr Jameson and the others depended on their 
doing so, whether Dr Jameson's surrender had been un- 
conditional and so on. It was not an important discussion 
except for the soreness it revealed. Mr Chamberlain, 
who had gained ground with even the extreme Tories by 
obtaining the transfer of the prisoners to British justice, 
had now to lose a little. He fell into the mistake of 
attempting a counter-stroke, and attempting it so publicly 


that its failure was bound to add to the general irritation. 
Instead of taking clearly the position that the Raid had 
rendered impossible for some time any official representa- 
tions of the Uitlanders' grievances, he wrote a despatch 
to President Kruger, recapitulating the grievances, and 
suggesting a plan of municipal government for Johannes- 
burg. It was not likely that in their suspicious temper 
the Boers would take this as anything but one more covert 
sapping of their rule ; and an invitation, also conveyed 
in the despatch, to President Kruger himself to come to 
England for a discussion of the position, was plainly ill- 
timed. Mr Chamberlain published this despatch in England 
before it was delivered to President Kruger, an obvious 
breach of official good manners. There were advisers at 
President Kruger's elbow clever enough to see this, if the 
President himself did not. The reply was not only a 
refusal of the invitation, and a putting aside of the sugges- 
tion, but also a rebuke. Ill-feeling had one more thing 
to feed upon. What really forced the feeling in every 
possible way was the question of the complicity of British 
official authorities in the Raid. Coming as it did so soon 
after the accession of the Conservatives and Unionists to 
power, representing as desperate a situation in the Trans- 
vaal which the ordinary man had never regarded as acute, 
the Raid seemed to throw a light, by some considered 
sinister, on Mr Chamberlain's choice of office in the new 
Ministry. He was the man about whose post there had 
been most speculation. He had chosen one not hitherto 
associated with great energy or scope for ambition ; and 
within six months he was dealing with the matter which 
was practically the only subject in the public mind. Late 
in April it became known that certain cipher telegrams 
which had fallen into the Boers' hands on the capture of 
Dr Jameson were held by the Boers to establish the fact 
that Mr Rhodes and Mr Beit (a millionaire of the Rand 
mines) knew of the plans being made in Johannesburg for 


the calling in of an armed force. If Mr Rhodes was 
cognisant of the plot, was the Colonial Office wholly 
ignorant ? And if it was, why was Mr Rhodes still Prime 
Minister of Cape Colony ? Such doubts had their effect 
on both sides. The Liberal demand was plain enough ; 
there must be a full and drastic inquiry. The Tory 
attitude could not be one of opposition to such a demand. 
No mistakes could be afforded, and the Colonial Office must, 
if possible, be absolved from complicity in such a fiasco. 
A few weeks later Mr Rhodes resigned his Premiership, 
but it was not until the end of the session that the Select 
Committee on British South Africa was set up. Liberals 
could not complain of their representation on it. It con- 
sisted of the Attorney-General (Sir Richard Webster), Mr 
John Bigham, Mr Sydney Buxton, Sir Henry Campbell- 
Bannerman, Mr Chamberlain, the Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer (Sir Michael Hicks Beach), Mr Alfred Cripps, Sir 
William Hart Dyke, Mr John Ellis, Sir William Harcourt, 
Mr W. L. Jackson, Mr Henry Labouchere, Mr Wharton 
and Mr George Wyndham. In moving the appointment 
of the committee Mr Chamberlain stated that his policy 
had been to allow time for the feelings of irritation both 
among British and among Boers to subside, before re- 
viving in an inquiry the grounds of the irritation. He had 
not succeeded, for while the Boers put the worst possible 
construction on the delay, the British in South Africa 
were becoming convinced that it was the intention of the 
Transvaal to push home its strong position by declaring 
entire independence. Meanwhile the sentences on the 
prisoners on either side were an indication of the feelings 
aroused. Dr Jameson and the twelve others in England 
were sentenced to short terms of imprisonment. Indeed, 
it seemed to be likely that the jury would return a verdict 
of acquittal, but the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Russell of 
Killowen, summed up in such a way as to leave the 
jury virtually no alternative. Colonel Frank Rhodes (a 


brother of Mr Rhodes), Mr Phillips, Mr Farrer and Mr 
Hammond, the leaders of the Johannesburg Uitlanders 
who were tried in the Transvaal, were condemned to 
death, the sentences being commuted immediately after- 
wards to heavy fines and two years' imprisonment. 

However, if Mr Chamberlain meant that his policy was 
to wait until merely popular feeling in England died down, 
he was justified. The newspaper sensation barely lasted 
into the early summer. Trade was reviving strongly, and 
the quantity of money seeking investment was reflected 
in the price of securities. Consols were up to 113, and 
all gilt-edged securities were high with them. This was, of 
course, partly due to the suspicion under which company- 
promoting had fallen. The " guinea-pig " director had been 
flagrantly in evidence for some years past. The Govern- 
ment introduced a Companies Bill, which went further 
than the recommendations of the recent Committee on 
Company Law ; it insisted on the filing of balance-sheets 
for public inspection, and on a shareholding qualification 
for directors. This may have restored confidence to some 
extent ; but the search for investments would in any case 
have revived speculation. Speculation had also become, 
in the recent gold-mines boom, an amusement and a 
possibility of profit, which people of leisure would not 
easily drop. New material for it was at hand. Gas, after 
all the fears expressed in the early days of electric light, 
had held its ground as an illuminant, and was now even 
gaining ground by the recent invention of the incandescent 
mantle. Litigation in 1896 with regard to certain patents 
brought the invention into prominence, so that it caught 
the eye of the speculator. But a still more profitable field 
was opening. The immense craze for cycling was swamp- 
ing the manufacturers with orders, and capital for de- 
veloping their capacities might well be called for. The 
opportunity was seized, and during this year and the fol- 
lowing year cycle companies were a safe draw for money ; 


reconstructions of existing companies with very large 
increases of capital were of weekly occurrence ; every 
component part of a cycle seemed to offer a fresh oppor- 
tunity for the flotation of a company to make it. Capital 
to the amount of something like eleven millions went 
into cycling in 1896 alone ; the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre 
Company took five millions. It was the new boom. No 
one at the time thought of it as rather too late in the day 
to be a safe one, though a warning might have been derived 
from a paper read by Sir Douglas Fox before the British 
Association this year, in which he spoke of motor cars as 
offering an opening for engineering skill and invention even 
more important than that offered by cycle-construction. 
As yet these cars were only known to the general public 
as an invention developed chiefly in France but not to be 
taken very seriously. They were thought a noisy method 
of locomotion, uncertain in control, somewhat ridiculous in 
appearance, and terrifying to horses. 

At the moment other scientific inventions were more in 
the public eye. The theory of mechanical flight was already 
liberating itself from the old belief that a lifting agent, such 
as light gas, was an essential for passage through the air. 
Mr Hiram Maxim was making experiments with lifting- 
planes actuated by a light engine ; and Lilienthal and 
Pilcher were in the midst of their experiments in gliding. 
The work of Professor Langley, who had since 1887 been 
investigating the behaviour of plane surfaces subjected to 
resistance of the air, and had published elaborate tables 
of mathematical calculations, was greatly assisting such 
experiments. But the discovery most seized upon by 
popular interest was that of the Rontgen rays. It needed 
no scientific knowledge to see that this opened a new world 
of possibilities, and was a fundamental disturbance of 
ordinary conceptions of matter. 

Parliament came early to the discovery that its long 
and energetic programme was meeting with a rather un- 


expected check. It had attacked a fine variety of subjects. 
Some Bills have already been mentioned. Besides these 
there was a Light Railways Bill, setting up a body of 
commissioners for the consideration of local projects, and 
authorising the Treasury to make loans, provided that not 
less than half the capital required was subscribed by the 
public, and that not more than a half of that was found by 
local authorities. There had been a good deal of discussion 
of light railways during 1894, the chief idea being that they 
would assist agriculturists to supply markets beyond their 
immediate neighbourhood ; and the setting up of special 
commissioners was intended to overcome the objection that 
parliamentary costs were too high, and parliamentary re- 
quirements as to construction too severe, for such transport. 
The Bill was, with the Agricultural Rating Bill, an attempt 
to cure rural distresses, which not only damaged the 
country districts, but also added to urban problems, by 
causing rural labourers to invade the towns and augment 
the congestion and unemployment there. The rating 
proposal was that agricultural land should be assessed at 
one-half its value, the deficiency being made up by a grant 
from the Imperial Exchequer to the Local Taxation 
Account. It brought a fresh complication into thaalready 
confused system of rating, and was a piece of specialised 
legislation not easy to defend. The Irish Land Bill, again, 
had no easy progress. A large part of it was occupied with 
a statutory fixing of rents (rendered necessary by the 
passage of time since the Act of 1881, which only fixed 
rents for fifteen years), and this was a repetition of pro- 
posals of which the Conservatives had complained strongly, 
and which the House of Lords had rejected, in Mr Morley's 
Bill of 1895. Tories could hardly like such a position ; 
and they liked no better the proposals for Land Purchase, 
designed to facilitate and quicken the working of the 
Act of 1891, which had so far been largely a failure. 
Between the desire to have the Nationalists on the side of 


the Bill (as an effective answer to Home Rulers) and the 
pressure of Irish landlords against conciliation of the 
tenants, the Bill had stormy hours to weather. The 
House of Lords introduced some strong amendments, but 
ultimately surrendered to the House of Commons' refusal 
to accept them, and the Bill became law. 

In these rather strained conditions of Irish affairs, it was 
inevitable that the report of the Royal Commission on 
Financial Relations between Great Britain and Ireland 
should fall flat. It was published in September, the chair- 
man, Mr Childers, not living to see the publication. He 
had died in January. The commission was of Liberal 
appointment, 1 and though the result might rather be 
described as several reports than as one, there were some 
points on which a majority of the commissioners were 
agreed, as, for instance, that the two countries must be 
regarded for financial purposes as separate entities, that 
the burden of taxation imposed by the Act of Union was 
too great, and that in such a period as that from 1853 to 
1860 an unjustifiable weight of taxation had been placed 
upon Ireland. 2 

But to return to the session. Neither Agricultural 
Rating nor Irish Land proved so difficult a subject as 
the Education Bill. Proceeding largely on the lines of the 
recent commission's recommendations, the Bill set up the 
county and borough councils as the education authority, 
to work through special committees. Under the general 
supervision of the Board of Education the new authorities 
were to have charge of the inspection of schools, and entire 
control of the parliamentary grant ; to develop technical 
schools, and take over all local duties under the Technical 
Instruction Act. Then came another piece of specialised 
legislation. The voluntary schools were to receive an 

* See p. 356. 

1 For an interesting comment by Mr Gladstone on this point see 
Morley's Life of Gladstone , i. 646. 


additional Exchequer grant of four shillings per child ; 
and it was also provided that in any elementary school, 
if " a reasonable number " of parents applied for separate 
religious instruction for their children, the managers must 
allow effect to be given to this desire. From the very- 
start the Bill gave trouble. All the Liberal strength went 
into denunciation of the special favours to Church schools, 
and the implied destruction, by the provisions for separate 
religious teaching, of the Cowper-Temple agreement. The 
Irish party, it is true, were not with them ; as a party 
mainly Roman Catholic, they never could take the un- 
sectarian line in matters of education. But Liberals 
knew that, however widely he had parted from them in 
some directions, Mr Chamberlain could not be pleased 
with this Bill ; and they shrewdly suspected that Sir John 
Gorst, though officially responsible for it, had no great 
love of it as a whole. They were therefore unwearying in 
the proposal of amendments ; and the fact that, although 
few amendments commanded the support of more than 
a hundred and fifty members, five days were spent in 
committee on the first two lines of the Bill, showed the 
Liberal party that the Government felt their hold on 
the Bill to be weak. Conservative supporters outside the 
House were not well united on the matter ; they differed 
as to drawing the extra grants from taxes or from rates, 
and more seriously as to the amount of the grant. In the 
end the Bill was dropped. Sir John Gorst was, more or 
less accidentally, prominent in another debate of this year 
which deserves mention. He had presided at the meeting 
of a limited liability company, of which he was chairman ; 
and occasion was taken to raise the question of the pro- 
priety of Cabinet Ministers holding directorships. During 
the Liberal Ministry of 1892-1895 Mr Gladstone (on the 
advice, it is said, of Lord Rosebery) had made it a rule 
that members of his Cabinet should not hold directorships. 
But that was a rather severe ideal, since even Cabinet 


Ministers could not afford wholly to abandon sources of 
private income ; and for the present the rule was not 
revived by Lord Salisbury. It remains to be added 
that the session was not a success, and Mr Balfour 
was taken to task for " airiness " and " inattention 
to detail " in his conduct of the business of the House 
of Commons. There was more than a hint that, if 
he could not do the work successfully, it was quite 
possible that Mr Chamberlain could. 1 Two minor matters 
helped to make the Government rather less popular in the 
country than it had been a year earlier : Mr Walter Long, 
President of the Board of Agriculture, decided to make 
permanent, and to enforce more strictly, the regulations for 
the slaughter of imported cattle at the port of entry ; 
and the muzzling of dogs was largely increased owing to 
serious outbreaks of rabies in Lancashire and Yorkshire. 

A matter of much greater moment, though its full 
development was long delayed, was the appointment of 
a Royal Commission on the Licensing Laws. We have 
already seen a previous Conservative Government attempt- 
ing, though vainly, to respond to a certain force of moderate 
opinion which was uneasy about the position of the 
licensed victualling trade in the community. 2 Under the 
Liberal Government the extreme party of abolitionists 
held the ground, with their policy of Local Veto. The 
complete defeat of that policy now left room once more 
for moderate opinion ; and the new government, com- 
mitted by the earlier attempts to taking some action, 
appointed a Royal Commission. Its chairman was Lord 
Peel, who had in the previous year resigned the Speaker- 
ship of the House of Commons. The Commission was 
constituted on a new principle, three groups being deliber- 
ately chosen to represent the licensed trade, temperance 
advocates, and men of open mind. Each group consisted 

1 See the Punch cartoon, 4th July 1896. 

2 See pages 230 and 270.- 


of eight men. The most prominent and capable members 
of the Commission were Lord Peel and Lord Windsor 
among the neutrals; the Archbishop of Canterbury, 
Mr T. P. Whittaker and Mr W. S. Caine among the 
temperance men ; and Mr North Buxton and Mr George 
Younger among the representatives of the trade. 

One decision the Government had taken at a time when 
the excitement about the Jameson Raid obscured it from 
the popularity it would have enjoyed. It was the decision 
to permit an advance up the Nile for the reoccupation of 
part of the Soudan. Events which brought forward the 
possibility of an expedition have already been mentioned. 1 
The event which now caused the Government to reverse 
its decision of the previous autumn was the crushing defeat 
of Italian forces by Abyssinian troops at Adowa. In 
the rearrangement of territory after the withdrawal of 
Egyptian forces from the Soudan, Italy had acquired the 
district of Massowah, on the Red Sea ; and her defeat 
seemed likely to bring the dervishes down in an attempt 
to occupy the whole province. The desire to assist Italy 
by causing a diversion of dervish forces was given by the 
Government as the second of the reasons for sanctioning 
an expedition. The first was merely stated as " the advice 
of the military authorities in Egypt." It is more than 
likely that a consideration of some weight in the giving of 
that advice was a French advance in the Soudan by way of 
Darfur, one of the provinces which the Khalifa had 
abandoned. The resentful surprise in England when Cap- 
tain Marchand was found two years later at Fashoda, would 
have been less bitter if more attention had been paid in 
1896 to this move on the part of France. Sir Charles 
Dilke who, after six years' withdrawal, had returned to 
the House of Commons at the election of 1892, as Member 
for the Forest of Dean, spoke in the House of the French 
advance, but no one else outside official circles appeared to 
1 See p. 375. 


attach any importance to it. In Egypt itself France took 
the anticipated line of opposing and hampering the British 
decision. For the purposes of the expedition it was pro- 
posed to allot a sum of half-a-million from the Egyptian 
Treasury. But access to Treasury accumulations could 
only be granted by the authority of the International 
Commissioners of the Debt. A majority of four to two 
of commissioners agreed to the payment of the sum, 
but the two dissentients, the French and the Russian 
representatives, brought an action in the Mixed Tribunal 
of First Instance at Cairo, and obtained a verdict 
that the withholding of their consent was sufficient to 
prevent the payment of the sum ; the verdict was upheld 
on appeal. The British Government, desiring nothing 
better, repaid at once into the Egyptian Treasury the 
sum of 515,000, and also advanced a further sum of 
800,000 at 2| per cent, for the expedition. But for 
the Franco-Russian intervention it would have been 
difficult for Great Britain to undertake so thoroughly 
the conduct of the affair. The expedition was com- 
manded by Sir Herbert Kitchener, who knew his ground. 1 
He had been continuously with the Egyptian army 
for fourteen years, and since 1888 had been, first as 
Adjutant-General and then as Sirdar, the maker of its 
new qualities. Early in the expedition he laid his plans 
to " blood " his men with a battle. The difficulty was 
to make sure of a downright engagement with the 
dervishes, but locating them at last, at Firket, he made 
a masterly night march in two columns, which converged 
with complete success upon the enemy. The dervishes 
were routed with heavy loss, and the Egyptian forces 
were put in heart to withstand a somewhat trying summer 
of cholera, and of heavy storms, which damaged the railway 
communications. Nothing occurred to hinder Kitchener's 
plans, and Dongola was occupied on 23rd September. 
1 See page 133. 


The summer in England was abnormally hot and dry. 
It was full of sporting interests, beginning with the 
winning of the Derby by Persimmon, the Prince of Wales's 
horse. It was the first time that the Prince had won the 
Derby, and the popularity of the event was immense. The 
dryness of the air favoured large scores in cricket, and a 
reputation was made in this year which seemed likely to 
rival in interest that of Dr W. G. Grace, who had achieved 
in 1895 the feat of reaching his hundredth century in first- 
class cricket. Prince Ranjitsinhji, a young Indian who 
was in residence at Cambridge, shared with Dr Grace in 
1896 the idolisation of cricket crowds. A less pleasant 
incident of cricket was the heated debate aroused 
by the action of the Cambridge eleven during the uni- 
versity match of this year, in bowling deliberate " no- 
balls " for tactical reasons. All sorts of persons rushed 
into the fray of deciding whether this was, or was not, 
sportsmanlike. The affair itself mattered less than the 
revelation which it produced of the place sport was 
occupying in the national life. Observant philosophers 
attributed this to the reign of commerce and machinery. 
The individual, they said, withered at the counting-house 
and the factory, but returned to his own stature at cricket 
or cycling. Other philosophers discerned the new force 
less in the active pursuit of sports than in the looking-on 
of crowds. Facilities of transport, easier earnings, and 
an easier inclination to spend them, combined with the 
increasing distribution of cheap newspapers to make 
sporting experts of even the most sluggish members of 
the public. 

The number of cheap newspapers had increased this 
year by the addition of one that was soon to become by far 
the most prominent of them all. The Daily Mail was 
first published in the spring of 1896. It was founded by 
Mr Alfred Harmsworth, who had made a large fortune out 
of a penny weekly paper, Answers. He now saw that there 


was no reason whatever to suppose that only the Radical 
working man wanted to have a daily paper for a half- 
penny. He therefore offered a Conservative newspaper 
for a halfpenny ; and, with that reliance upon the profits 
of enormous sales which had made the success of the 
penny weekly papers he promised his readers no less 
adequate and no less distinguished foreign correspondence 
than was published by the papers which cost a penny, or 
even by the paper which cost threepence. They could 
at the same time depend on no less keen a scent for the 
exciting and the amusing than the existing halfpenny 
papers had accustomed them to expect ; while a general 
Conservative tone would make the excitement a little 
more reputable. It was, as events proved, the final word 
in a cheap Press. 

A grave result of the heat of the summer was a water 
famine in the East End of London. Fortunately the 
fears which it caused of a serious spread of disease were not 
realised ; but the danger was no imaginary one, and the 
mere inconvenience of the failure of supply was great. 
Naturally the incident revived the question of the purchase 
of the water undertakings of London by the County 
Council. The piecemeal system had come to a serious 
breakdown. But the probable cost of taking over the 
various companies was put by some experts at no less 
than thirty millions, and this was a daunting sum. The 
County Council did deposit this year a Bill for the purpose. 
The companies, however, were wise enough to profit by 
the year's experience ; and they created a new system of 
inter-communication between their various supplies, which 
rendered an acute water famine in any single district much 
less likely, and so removed a source of friction with the 
public. In the absence of such friction they knew that the 
municipalisation of their undertakings was but a remote 
possibility. Some uneasiness was arising about the state 
of local taxation all over the country. The general local 


debt was put at over two hundred and two millions, 
and only fifty-six millions of this sum were in directly 
remunerative undertakings, such as gas and water 
supply. Nor was it only the amount of debt which 
was being criticised. The more penetrating comment 
was that the incidence of local taxation had never been 
properly worked out, and that there had been no at- 
tempt to redistribute the pressure of the swiftly growing 
burden. At any rate, as the London County Council, in 
its short career, had already amassed a debt of thirty- 
eight and a half millions, the London Water Companies 
had no great fear of compulsory purchase. The council 
had enough to do in defending its. existing enterprises, 
especially the Works Department, which was accused of 
spending more than contractors would have asked for 
its undertakings, and also of choosing the jobs which 
would be most likely to turn out well financially, leaving 
the others to the contractors. 

During the summer there was a murder trial which has 
to be mentioned for the quality rather than the extent of 
the public interest in it. It was the trial of a woman 
named Dyer for killing children put out " to nurse " with 
her. It drew attention to the horrors of baby-farming ; 
and the general conscience was so much stirred that other 
problems of slum childhood received more attention than 
might otherwise have been given them. Poor Law 
schools fell under the strong condemnation of a committee 
appointed to inquire into them, and it was decided that 
the children should be placed under the new education 
authorities, as soon as these were set up. An experiment 
by the Chorlton Board of Guardians, in Lancashire a 
" model village " for boarding-out workhouse children, 
consisting of sixteen cottages accommodating nearly three 
hundred children, with a swimming bath for their use, and 
workshops for teaching carpentry, bootmaking and 
plumbing was started in September ; and other towns, 



such as Sheffield, made the same experiment in a less 
costly way by taking houses in different parts of 
the town, and placing pauper children in them. The 
Dyer case had for the moment made the boarding-out of 
children rather unpopular. The case had nothing to do 
with Poor Law children, but it created an uneasiness about 
placing children in any circumstances except those of 
direct public control. Early in the following year a new 
Poor Law Board, for superintending matters connected 
with pauper children, was set up as a sub-department of 
the Local Government Board. 

When the autumn revived political interest, the Liberal 
party had to choose a new leader. Lord Rosebery had 
had enough in two years of leading a party which found 
him light, and which he found preposterously heavy. 
The course taken on his resignation showed how deep 
was the disintegration of the Liberal party since the re- 
tirement of Mr Gladstone had removed the bond of personal 
loyalty to him. At the time of his retirement the party 
had been in office, and the choice of its next leader, being 
the choice of a Prime Minister, had been the business of 
the Crown, and not of the party. Now that the party 
had to find a leader, the case was seen to be very different. 
After these two years it would have been impossible to 
propose a peer again, and so Lord Spencer missed finally 
the chance, which most people thought should have been 
his, beyond question, on Mr Gladstone's resignation. In 
the Commons it was practically impossible to pass over 
Sir William Harcourt ; and yet it was only too well known 
that he would not command even a decently unanimous 
allegiance. In the end the real difficulty was shirked. 
Sir William Harcourt was chosen leader of the party in 
the House of Commons ; and refuge was taken from the 
greater problem by the decision that the actual leader of 
the party as a whole need not be chosen until there was 
a likelihood of the Liberals coming into power. The 


controversy on the Government's proposals for education 
showed no diminution of bitterness. A new line of 
criticism suggested that there should be no attempt to 
deal with elementary and technical education together. 
The latter had been well handled under existing arrange- 
ments. A report of the Technical Education Board of 
the London County Council, published in this year, is a 
useful guide to the elaborate and successful scholarship 
system which had grown up. The first stage was provided 
by six hundred scholarships allotted to elementary schools, 
for boys and girls under thirteen years of age, whose parents 
had incomes not exceeding 150. These insured free 
education for two years at improved secondary or upper 
schools, and a money payment of 20 a year. None of 
these scholarships went to children of middle-class parents, 
and 1*5 children per thousand in the London area had made 
this first step. The next was by intermediate scholarships 
for boys and girls under sixteen years of age whose parents 
had incomes not exceeding 450 a year. They ensured 
free education up to the age of nineteen at public schools, 
and a money payment of 20 or 30 a year. There were 
thirty-five of these scholarships, and only five had gone to 
children whose parents' incomes were over 250 a year. 
Lastly, there were senior scholarships, carrying free 
education through a university course with a payment 
of 60 a year. There were also a hundred exhibitions 
tenable at evening art schools, and over three hundred 
exhibitions for higher training in domestic economy. 
This was an example of work now being done all over the 
country, work which in the north especially was trans- 
forming the lives and prospects of the intelligent workmen. 
Curiously enough, it depressed the patient philosopher 
whose writings had their chief influence amongst these 
very people. Mr Herbert Spencer finished in this year his 
Synthetic Philosophy ; and admitted himself depressed by 
the spread of socialist views of the functions of the State. 


Yet it was his doctrine which, more than anything else, 
was sought after by the advanced working men ; and his 
philosophical speculations, never much esteemed by 
academic teachers, had their real public in the people 
whose opinions he disliked. In labour matters generally 
the year was a quiet one. There were one or two strikes 
for Trade Union principles, and at the end of the year the 
case of Flood v. Jackson became famous. It was one in 
which certain shipwrights engaged on ironwork were dis- 
charged on the complaint of the ironworkers, and brought 
an action against the delegate of the Ironworkers' Union. 
The jury held that the latter had acted maliciously ; and 
the case was so difficult that the House of Lords, when the 
appeal reached it, had to call in the aid of judges of the 
High Court. In the end the original verdict was reversed, 
and the union won the case. But there could be no 
mistaking the reluctance with which this decision was 
reached, or the growing dissatisfaction in a large part of 
the community with regard to the apparently privileged 
position of trade unions under the common law. An 
effort towards genuine political recognition of trade 
unions was made in this year by Lord James of Hereford, 
who introduced a Bill for the registration of conciliation 
boards, and to give the Board of Trade a statutory power 
of intervention in labour disputes. Meanwhile the co- 
operation movement was in some difficulty. The ex- 
tension of its productive side had brought it to the 
problem of fluctuation of demand, and of the locking - 
up of capital, which was imposed by the necessity of 
holding goods against a recovery of the market. 

The year had a heavy death-roll of notable men. 
It included some distinguished artists Lord Leighton, 
master of graceful and delicate opulence in painting 
and in personality, and Sir John Millais, one of 
the pre-Raphaelite group, who had found his brush 
not incapable of command of a popular style. The 


death of these two men left academic art in England 
singularly bare and lifeless in the face of the newer 
generation of painters. Another artist who died this 
year was George du Maurier ; he had brought Punch 
into true relation with an altering social structure by 
giving to satire of Society tricks and fads and changes of 
view that prominence which Leech and Charles Keene had 
given entirely to middle-class foibles. In October died 
William Morris. His difficulty in associating himself 
with the labour movement of the last eight or nine years 
gave some colour to the criticism that his socialism was 
rather a sentimental form of protest against the ascendancy 
of the commercial spirit than a true political conviction. 
But the profound influence he exercised was easy to 
recognise ; and, though his own manufactures were too 
costly to reach any but those of considerable means, his 
gospel of design had already modified the taste of even 
suburban furnishers. Archbishop Benson, while on a 
visit to Mr Gladstone at Hawarden, died suddenly in a 
pew in church. His one outstanding action, the trial of the 
Bishop of Lincoln, was an error ; but he had otherwise 
filled his throne with dignity and grace. He was apt to be 
misled by picturesque possibilities, and in this year had 
been engaged in the rather unwise movement to try to 
obtain from the Vatican a recognition of Anglican orders 
of priesthood. Some of the High Church leaders had 
been persuaded that the attempt might meet with unex- 
pected success. The Papal Bull published in September 
was a perfectly conclusive refusal of recognition ; and 
Archbishop Benson had to content himself with giving the 
English Church such consolation as might be found in the 
fact that, as he put it, " Infallibility had this time ventured 
on giving its reasons." The appointment of his successor 
revived for a moment ecclesiastical bitternesses. Dr 
Temple, Bishop of London, was nominated. He had been 
one of the authors of Essays and Reviews, and there were 


many who gravely questioned his orthodoxy. He had, 
during his rule of the London see, shown in the matter of 
the reredos at St Paul's an inclination to override doctrinal 
controversies, and anxious Evangelicals believed that as 
Archbishop he would still further damp down anti- 
Ritualist feeling. 

One of those extraordinary incidents in which London 
delights, as revelations of the crude romance which can 
lurk in a large city, occurred in October. It suddenly 
became known that a Chinaman named Sun Yat Sen was 
being imprisoned with a high hand in the house of the 
Chinese Legation. He had in fact been ten days in durance 
before he was able to communicate with friends, who took 
the story at once to the Foreign Office. Lord Salisbury 
represented to the legation that, whatever complaints it 
might have against the man, it was impossible to acqui- 
esce in the bland kidnapping which had been practised. 
The legation, shrugging its shoulders at the strange con- 
cerns of Western civilisation, released its captive. Little 
was said of any charges against him ; it was only under- 
stood that it was obnoxious to the Chinese Government 
that he should be at liberty, and the legation had calmly 
taken steps, when an occasion offered itself, to end that 

The 14th November of this year is an important date. 
On that day the legal provisions, which enacted that every 
mechanical locomotive on a highway must be preceded by 
a man walking with a red flag to warn drivers of horse 
vehicles, ceased to exist. They had been an absolute bar 
to the use of motor cars in this country. That their re- 
moval would lead to anything like the amazing develop- 
ments which ensued no one suspected ; the agitation for 
removal had made only the feeblest appearance in the 
newspapers. The comparatively few people who really 
understood the potentialities of the new invention had 
against them almost the whole of the world of wealth and 


influence. The very persons, who were in a few years to 
make a complete surrender to motoring, took towards it 
at this time much the same attitude as they had taken 
earlier towards cycling. They abused the invasion of the 
highways, they sneered at the smells and the noise and 
the discomforts of the cars, they predicted death or 
mutilation for the drivers of the machines. Those who, 
having no horses and no aristocratic traditions, were not 
inclined to be angry, were nearly as annoying in their 
sniggering disbelief in the power of cars. Amid the 
mingled chorus of abuse and jeers preparations were made 
for a suitable demonstration, celebrating the end of the 
red flag regulations. It was to take the form of a pro- 
cession of cars from London to Brighton. An enormous 
concourse of people watched the start from a hotel in 
Northumberland Avenue, and to the crowd's immense 
gratification some of the cars failed to start at all. Others 
broke down on the way. Yet enough performed the 
journey to put an end to mere cavilling, and at the same 
time the confidence of the people who really understood 
the new invention was so firm and assured that from 
that moment the progress of motor cars in England was 
unchecked and rapid. 



THE nation came to the celebration of the second 
Jubilee in a different spirit from that in which it 
approached the first. It may be said that Queen 
Victoria was herself the centre of the loyal enthusiasm 
of 1887, and that in 1897 the toast was rather " Our 
Noble Selves." The display of military contingents from 
all over the world was far more elaborate than in 1887 ; 
while the crowning glory of the second celebration was the 
naval review at Spithead, the triumphant exhibition of the 
massive results of the advanced naval policy of the pre- 
ceding years. The colonial representatives were also more 
deliberately brought into the foreground. To make a 
broad distinction, the Jubilee of 1887 was royal, and the 
affectionate participation of Europe in doing honour to a 
revered sovereign was the keynote ; the Jubilee of 1897 
was imperial, and the source of pride our vast territory 
and our possessions in men and money. 

The year began in a singularly bad spirit with the Welsh 
slate quarry dispute. The quarrying system was a curious 
one, which had hitherto given the men no small share in 
the control. The quarries in question belonged to Lord 
Penrhyn, but the custom of working them had been to sell 
to contractors the right of removing the slate. Direct 
relations between the workmen and the owner's manager 
had, however, been maintained, by the existence of a men's 
committee ; so that, in spite of the contracting system, 
the men were in the last resort Lord Penrhyn's men. In 
September of 1896 the men had complaints to make 



against contractors, and had appealed for the establish- 
ment of a new system in the quarries. Lord Penrhyn did 
not agree to this ; and, thinking it necessary to take some 
forcible step to insist upon his attitude, he suspended 
seventy-one of the men. In effect, as these were the men 
who had been prominent in stating the workmen's case, 
he suspended the committee. Later on he locked out the 
whole body of quarrymen. The dispute became at once 
extremely bitter. Lord Penrhyn refused to have any- 
thing more to do with a committee, and the men, whose 
system was, after all, older than Trade Unionism, were 
indignant at his adoption of the ordinary attitude of a 
fighting employer, and his treatment of their committee 
as if it involved a case of recognition of Trade Union 
representation. The dispute had elements which made it 
more of a deadlock than even the most obstinate of dis- 
putes had been hitherto. Firstly, Lord Penrhyn declined 
flatly the offer of the Board of Trade to intervene ; secondly, 
the quarrying was highly skilled work, and there could be 
no cutting of the knot by importing labour ; thirdly, the 
quarries suffered no injury from being left unworked (as 
coal-mines, for instance, suffer), and therefore one power- 
ful inducement to settle the dispute was lacking. The 
struggle was made the subject of debate in the House of 
Commons early in the session, but no good came of the 
discussion. Even those whose natural instinct in any 
labour quarrel lay on the masters' side found it difficult 
to defend Lord Penrhyn, and had to content themselves 
with a general feeling that everyone concerned was be- 
having badly. 1 But the men's case was both skilfully 
and inspiringly presented in England, and a relief fund 
was organised, which enabled them to hold out far longer 
than was expected. 

Apart from this, the year at its beginning was of good 
promise. British relations with France were believed to 
1 See, e.g., The Times, 5th January 1897. 


be improving. A terrible disaster to a great liner, the 
Drummond Castle, off the coast of Brittany, had brought 
into evidence the heroism of the Bretons ; and the result 
had been a softening of international feeling. Even in 
Egypt signs were perceived of the passing away of irrita- 
tion. The resentment aroused by the German Emperor's 
telegram to President Kruger had subsided in the prudent 
silence which he had since observed. Although there was 
anxiety enough about the Transvaal in official quarters, 
where Kruger's purchase of armaments and approaches 
to certain European Powers were seen as an assertion of 
independence, the public had in its easy way forgotten its 
wrath ; and was suggesting that the Raid prisoners might 
now be released, and the affair passed over. As for 
Parliament, no doubt the Government would have learned 
its lesson from the previous year, and would be wise 
enough not to attempt too large or too disturbing a 
programme. The new Education Bill certainly looked 
lighter than its predecessor ; it was quite a short measure, 
dealing only with the gift of State aid to the voluntary- 
schools. While maintaining the principle of drawing the 
aid from the taxes, and not from the rates, the Government 
met some of the criticism of its supporters in the previous 
year by making the amount of the grant five shillings 
instead of four shillings. The Bill encountered none of 
the trouble inside the Cabinet and the party with which 
the Bill of 1896 had had to struggle, and it was passed. 
So was the Law of Evidence Amendment Bill, by which 
prisoners were allowed to give evidence on oath ; those 
who expressed fear of great change being wrought in the 
character of a trial were met with the answer, that in effect 
the statements which prisoners were already free to make 
had great weight with a jury, and it would be all to the 
good that they should have the sanction and the restraint 
of being made on oath. In other ways the criminal law 
was at the time being reconsidered ; the movement for 


a court of criminal appeal was revived cases on the 
capital charge, however, were proposed to be excluded 
from the court's power and a committee presided over 
by Mr Asquith to inquire into prison administration re- 
ported in June. It found great changes for the better, 
but expressed the wish for more elasticity, more variation 
in the treatment of prisoners, amounting even to separate 
prisons and systems for the habitual offender and the 
more incidental criminal. 

The great measure of the session, the Workmen's Com- 
pensation Bill, would have appeared to the onlooker quite 
as full of danger as the Education Bill had been in the 
previous year. It embodied a fairly drastic new principle. 
Under the existing law a workman, in order to obtain 
compensation for injuries caused during his employment, 
had to prove that they were due to negligence on the part 
of his employer or a fellow-workman, and had also to be 
free himself of any charge of contributory negligence. By 
the new Bill the whole range of accidents came under an 
automatic system of compensation. It was only by a 
modification introduced in committee that the employer 
was allowed to set up a defence against claims. Com- 
pensation was placed, in case of death, at three years' 
wages or 150, whichever was the larger, with a maximum 
payment of 300 ; and in case of disablement, at a weekly 
payment of half the wages the worker earned, with a 
maximum of l a week. It was in many respects an 
astonishing Bill. Hard as it was, for instance, that possible 
cases of contributory negligence should be included, the 
Government risked the hardships in order to keep the 
Bill workable, and close the door against the more stulti- 
fying kinds of litigation. It was no wonder that Tories 
asked themselves what they were coming to, nor that the 
usual answer to the question was that they were being 
swallowed by Mr Chamberlain. For the present the Bill 
was confined to workmen employed in railways, factories, 


mines, quarries, engineering works, and docks. However, 
this was a wide enough range to cause masters to speak 
very strongly about the " charge on industry " ; and in the 
broadest sense this was in fact the first time that industry, 
and not the profits of industry, was made to bear a 
statutory burden of responsibility. The previous Em- 
ployers' Liability Acts had all proceeded upon the basis 
of some tort for which employers could be sued, merely 
enlarging the list of torts. But the Workmen's Com- 
pensation Act made the employer liable for compensation 
for accidents which were inseparable from the employ- 
ment, and not necessarily due to any shortcoming either 
in fellow-workmen or in machinery or plant. It gave 
a proper occasion for raising again the problem of 
lead-poisoning, phosphorus-poisoning in match-making, 
diseases of the lungs from file-cutting, etc. Mr H. J. 
Tennant, who had been secretary to the departmental 
committee on lead-poisoning, and was chairman of a 
similar committee on dangerous trades, which was sitting 
at this time, moved an instruction to include the victims 
of various industrial diseases in the Compensation Bill. 
But in view of the strong opposition which the Govern- 
ment had already to face on their own side, such an ex- 
tension was hardly to be accepted. After all, the Bill 
as it stood was an immense advance. 

Not the least interesting incident of the session was 
provided by an announcement which Mr Balfour made, 
almost casually, in reply to a question as to a possible in- 
clusion of Ireland under the Agricultural Rating Act. Mr 
Balfour answered that, as there were no county councils 
in Ireland, there was no such means as the Local Taxation 
Exchequer Account provided in England for supplementing 
the remitted rates. But, he went on to say, a large pay- 
ment would be made by the Exchequer, not merely to put 
agricultural rating in Ireland on the same footing as in 
England, but to allow for the landlord in Ireland not 


being, as such, rated at all. Thus the way would be 
cleared, he added, for an Irish Local Government Bill 
without fear of over-taxation of landlords. This was a 
rather sweeping instalment of the " alternatives to Home 
Rule," and the announcement called forth sharp criticism. 
Mr Balfour, the Conservatives thought, had done enough 
for Ireland in 1890. His Congested Districts Board had 
worked energetically, and the principle involved in it was 
more to the taste of Conservatives than was any form 
of local government. Indeed, the principle was being 
applied unofficially in Scotland to meet the crofters' 
grievances. Home industries were being encouraged by 
landlords and by committees of ladies all over Scotland, 
who made a market in London and elsewhere for cottage 
products, and so helped the crofters and cottars to earn 
the living which their holdings had ceased to provide, 
or had never provided. The year 1897 saw Harris tweeds 
and homespuns becoming a craze in England, and house- 
parties for shooting felt it a duty to be scented with a 
mild flavour of peat-reek. 

^ The retrospects of domestic affairs, indulged in as 
the Jubilee approached, are peculiarly interesting. The 
previous Jubilee had produced a summing-up of the enor- 
mous advances in invention, means of communication, 
and all the mechanism of modern life. On the present 
occasion reflection was rather directed to changes in 
habits, and points of view regarding social responsibilities. 
Thus the change in the business world which was most 
noted was the greatly increased value attached to statistics, 
the advantage taken of information about the world's 
markets, and in general the tendency to set up a common 
stock of knowledge for the use of the trading intellect. 
In internal government the new cult of public health was 
singled out for comment. It is not without significance that, 
whereas the Prince of Wales had proposed to commemorate 
the earlier Jubilee by the foundation of the Imperial 


Institute, he suggested as the memorial of the second 
Jubilee the establishment of the Hospital Fund for London 
which still bears his name. We have already seen the 
new cult at work in connection with the periodical alarms 
of cholera or fever, and in the attitude towards Pasteur 
and Koch. The feeling was strong that remedies, instead 
of being the main point, were rather a confession of failure ; 
and that the medical faculty was better occupied in pro- 
ducing healthy conditions than in waiting to deal with 
disease when it appeared. The campaign against slums, 
against adulteration of food, against over-pressure in 
factories, against sweating, now included, in alliance with 
those pioneers who assailed these things because they were 
morally wrong, the new fighters who said that they were 
stupid and suicidal, and gained thereby the ear of many 
who would have stood aside from what they considered the 
sentimentalities of the earlier efforts. Cleanliness and 
the ideal of physical fitness were vital elements in the new 
doctrine of efficiency ; and though the desire for fitness 
was producing an exaggerated passion for exercise, in some 
ranks of the community, it had vastly improved the 
standards of amusement and occupation. It was easy 
to see, and to deplore, the fact that the new spirit could 
not consort with the dignities and the ceremoniousness of 
other days. Rotten Row of a morning now was full of 
tweed jackets and bowler hats ; and the cycling clubs that 
streamed out of the large towns on a Saturday afternoon 
gave vent to their high spirits in a manner which pro- 
foundly offended the country gentleman. Authority was 
not what it had been ; but the collapse of some parts of its 
structure had let light in upon regions where at one time 
there had been darkness. The great advance of the 
serviceableness of electric tramways was promising to 
supply one of the solutions of slum problems, which had 
found a place in the Housing Commission's recommenda- 
tions. Improvements in cheap locomotion might be used 


to break up congested areas, by enabling the workman to 
live farther from his work ; and the opening of the Black- 
wall Tunnel in this year an undertaking by the London 
County Council which not even its severest critics con- 
demned led to the suggestion that the council's greatest 
service might well be to increase the traffic facilities of 

One retrospect made at this time, though not suggested 
by the Jubilee, is of some historical interest. Sir Isaac 
Pitman, the inventor of the most successful system of 
shorthand, died early in the year ; and the occasion was 
taken for the question whether the greater facility for pro- 
viding verbatim reports of speeches, which had been the 
result of his invention, had tended to the clarifying of 
politics. When the question was asked, there had not 
been time to see that recent developments of the Press were 
of a kind to nullify very largely Pitman's invention. The 
halfpenny newspaper, necessarily smaller than the penny 
paper, had not space to give to verbatim reports of speeches. 
Moreover, the public to which it appealed did not, as a 
whole, want to read entire speeches ; it wanted to be 
given, as briefly as possible, enough of the tenor of the 
speech to be able to talk about it. Therefore even if the 
invention of shorthand had in the past done anything to 
clarify politics, it was already too late to think of it as an 
effective force. The halfpenny Press was to be increased, 
before many years were over, by the lowering in price and 
size of two of the penny morning papers, which had suffered 
from the competition of the original halfpenny Press. 
That competition was also to act in subtler ways by making 
the people who still held to penny papers impatient of 
long reports. Shorthand had a firm foothold in com- 
mercial life, and Pitman remained a great inventor ; but 
for newspaper purposes his system had already seen its 
best days. 

Although the populace made this second Jubilee much 


more imperial in spirit than the first one, yet to the inner 
circle by the throne it was more domestic. The Queen's 
age now weighed heavily upon her. She hardly ever 
appeared in public ; and those whom she received in 
audience noticed change creeping at last upon the venerable 
figure. It had come rather suddenly. It was but three 
years since Mr Gladstone, as Prime Minister, had seen her 
frequently in audience, and yet, when he was received by 
the Queen at Cimiez in the spring of this year he noticed 
a great difference. " The Queen's manner," he wrote at 
the time, " did not show the old and usual vitality " ; and, 
remarking that the Queen's answers in conversation ap- 
peared to him to be very slight, he adds : " To speak 
frankly, it seemed to me that the Queen's peculiar faculty 
and habit of conversation had disappeared." l Queen 
Victoria was now not far from eighty years of age, and such 
ceremonies as those of 1887 were out of the question. In 
place of the service of that year in Westminster Abbey 
a less fatiguing form of thanksgiving was devised, which 
spared her even descent from her carriage. The procession 
went to St Paul's Cathedral ; and the service was held on 
the great west steps, which were massed from top to 
bottom with notabilities in uniform. In the centre the 
rich copes of archbishops and bishops, and the white 
surplices of the choir, climbed the slope from the point 
at which the Queen's carriage was to stop. The glitter 
of equerries, aides-de-camp, and the escort filled the level 
semicircle facing the steps ; and the immense, glowing 
picture was framed by tiers upon tiers of spectators in the 
houses overlooking it. The crowd in the streets was not 
quite what it had been in 1887. Observers noted that, 
while for three or four days vast numbers of people had 
paraded the decorated route of the procession, there was 
not on the morning of the procession that early rush for 
places which had been so remarkable ten years before. 
1 Morley's Life of Gladstone , iii. 524. 


There was certainly much of the flatness of a repetition. 
Yet London and the whole country kept holiday to the 
full. The Queen gallantly bore her share in the festivities, 
and gave a garden-party at Buckingham Palace, which 
was chiefly remembered as drawing off so many Members 
of Parliament from their duties that the Government 
suffered three successive defeats in the division lobbies. 
But the great event of the Jubilee celebrations was the 
naval review. Assembled for it at Spithead were a 
hundred and sixty-five warships, the fruit of ten years' 
costly work the navy of the new spirit. It was the Home 
Fleet only, no ships having been recalled from foreign 
stations. Next to the ships themselves, the presence of the 
colonial representatives at the review was the centre of 
interest. Mr Chamberlain had announced at the opening 
of the session that the Prime Ministers of the self -governing 
colonies had been invited to the Jubilee, not only to take 
part in the celebrations, but also to confer with the Govern- 
ment on imperial questions. Their visit was made of 
much greater importance than it had been in 1887. Mr 
Chamberlain had struck a new note in his administration 
of the Colonial Office, and the colonies were no longer 
regarded as possessions making somewhat exacting de- 
mands upon the mother country's provision for defence, 
but as sources of power and energy. 1 The Colonial 
Conference showed the new feeling in an absence of the 
somewhat barren amiability of the proceedings of 1887. 
Thus the discussion of naval affairs was accompanied by 
a warning to Australia to beware of her inclination to 
think of her contribution to imperial naval expenditure 
as necessarily entitling her to a kind of private sentry-go 
on her coasts. Mr Chamberlain appealed to the Premiers 
to remember that legislation in the colonies against 
immigrant coloured labour could not be made a local 
question in an empire which had responsibilities to 
1 Mr Chamberlain at the Colonial Institute, jist March 1897: 


millions of coloured subjects. A resolution was passed at 
the conference in favour of federation, wherever such a 
movement was geographically possible ; and an offer by 
Canada of a preferential tariff in favour of British trade 
led to a complicated discussion of existing fiscal treaties 
and most-favoured-nation clauses. The idea of a Customs 
Union within the empire was never very far from Mr 
Chamberlain's thoughts. 

Just as the great days of the Jubilee came to an end, 
there appeared in The Times J a poem which stirred the 
nation to an extraordinary degree. Afire with the pride 
of the spectacle of power and majesty, it struck a chord 
which prolonged as nothing else could have done the 
reverberations of the vibrating national spirit. It was 
Mr Rudyard Kipling's Recessional. In that poem, 
more than in any of the pomps of the Jubilee days, 
history will see represented the spirit of this year. In 
a nation which for a century had not had to fight for 
its life, which had in that period grown so wealthy that 
huge increases in its bill for armaments were met with 
little more than momentary murmurs, what was the true 
range of patriotism ? In a community so accustomed to 
security, so confident in its material resources of defence, 
what was happening to the soul of the people ? To many 
it seemed to be growing at once more assertive and less 
determined, more demonstrative and less persistent, more 
swiftly responsive but more easily diverted in attention. 
Mr Kipling had made actual to the English populace 
the daily round of far-distant wheels in the machine of 
empire. He had created a consciousness of the curious 
dullness, which familiarity with catch -words of rule 'pro- 
duced in the heart of empire the routine response to 
patriotic stimulus, which was really no response at all. 
He now struck this new consciousness a ringing blow. 
With an insight brilliantly alert he gave to the pride of the 
1 On i ;th July 1897. 


moment exactly the right turn for the moment. On one 
side of the modern mind, the dislike of ostentatious 
superiority, the worship of fitness rather than superficial 
appearances, Recessional went to the very heart of the 
matter. To another side, the side of easy lip-patriotism, 
it was a warning. To the people as a whole it em- 
phasised in the most remarkable way the feeling that 
the displays, of naval and military power were a fresh 
start. A start for what end ? That, apparently, did 
not matter. The point was that we were not, as in 1887, 
to review achievements, and sun ourselves in them ; we 
were to set our faces forward. 

On the north-west frontier of India operations had 
been undertaken against the warlike tribes inhabiting the 
mountain regions between India and Afghanistan, and 
were proving difficult and dangerous. The mountaineers, 
though not at any point in the campaign a really large 
force, made skilful use of the baffling nature of their 
country, and the heroism of British and Indian troops 
was severely tried. As the year advanced, temper 
was rising again in South African affairs. In April Sir 
Alfred Milner, a young man who had hitherto been known 
only for his work in connection with Lord Cromer's re- 
establishment of the finances of Egypt, and as Chairman of 
the Board of Inland Revenue, left England to succeed Sir 
Hercules Robinson as High Commissioner of Cape Colony. 
Such an appointment must obviously have special reasons ; 
they were found by the general public in a belief that Sir 
Alfred Milner went out as Mr Chamberlain's mouthpiece. 
The nature of his instructions was guessed at when 
Mr Chamberlain, at a dinner to Sir Alfred Milner on his 
departure, spoke of the hope of persuading the two white 
races in South Africa to live together in goodwill, but 
also spoke with firmness of the Convention of London, and 
of the British as " the paramount power in South Africa." 
In July the report of the South Africa Committee, ap- 


pointed to inquire into the Raid, was published. Mr Cecil 
Rhodes had been called as a witness ; Punch's cartoon that 
week was of the shade of Warren Hastings meeting Mr 
Rhodes at the committee-room door, and saying : " I 
succeeded, and was impeached. You fail and are called 
as a witness ! " * The report laid the responsibility for the 
plans in South Africa, of which the Raid was the premature 
revelation, on Mr Rhodes, Mr Beit and Mr Rutherfoord 
Harris. It exonerated the High Commissioner and the 
Colonial Office of any privity to what was going on, and in 
that opinion the four principal Liberal members of the 
committee, Sir William Harcourt, Sir Henry Campbell- 
Bannerman, Mr John Ellis and Mr Sydney Buxton, agreed. 
Mr Rhodes was by this time no longer either Premier of 
Cape Colony or managing director of the British South 
Africa Company. Men condoled with him ; those vast 
schemes which had touched the English imagination 
seemed to be driven into abeyance. The publication 
of the report was followed within a few days by a 
debate in the House of Commons. Certain telegrams 
bearing upon Mr Rhodes's position had not been pro- 
duced. They were in the possession of Mr B. F. Hawksley, 
solicitor to the British South Africa Company. He, when 
in the witness chair, had declined to produce them ; and 
before he was called, Mr Rhodes, who might have been 
asked to insist upon their production, had returned to 
South Africa. It was believed that the committee had 
not full information before them without those tele- 
grams. Sir William Harcourt and Sir Henry Campbell- 
Bannerman, to whom attack upon this point had been 
specially addressed by Mr Philip Stanhope and Mr 
Courtney, denied that there was any reason to suppose that 
the telegrams would materially have altered the com- 
mittee's decision. Mr Chamberlain, free of the accusations 
that by the unofficial medium of Miss Flora Shaw, a 
1 Punch, 6th February 1897. 


special correspondent of The Times, he was secretly in 
touch with Mr Rhodes, made his own vigorous defence of 
the committee. The feeling behind the attack was not 
solely concerned with the committee. It was almost as 
much an anxious suspicion that this clearing of reputations 
was really a clearing of the decks for action ; and that 
if Mr Chamberlain and Mr Rhodes had not understood 
one another before, they did so now. President Kruger 
had sent to the British Government a claim for a large 
indemnity for the Raid. This " bill for intellectual and 
moral damage " became at once a joke in England ; but 
it was a wry joke, and people grew more and more inclined 
to say that, if President Kruger was determined not to let 
the affair blow over, Mr Rhodes and his friends were not 
to be deserted. 

" Africa," said lord Salisbury at the Guildhall banquet 
this year, " was created to be the plague of the Foreign 
Office." He was not thinking of the Transvaal, which 
was the concern of another department. Central Africa, 
which a few years earlier had laid Uganda upon the Govern- 
ment's shoulders, was now offering a new burden in the 
shape of Nigeria. The Royal Niger Company, owing to 
the successes of Sir George Goldie in Nupe and Ilorin, was 
now within range of the spheres of influence of other 
European countries ; and it was therefore becoming im- 
possible to leave the affairs of their territory any longer 
in private hands, capably though the company was being 
administered. The massacre of an unarmed British ex- 
pedition near Benin City had called forth another small 
war. French influence was extremely active in regions 
bordering on the Niger, and the Foreign Office could not 
regard its new tasks with complacency. At the same time 
the charges against the administration of the Congo State 
became more direct and articulate. The root of the matter 
was laid bare in the argument that a country like the 
Congo could not by legitimate means be made to produce 


revenue, not only for the cost of administration, but for 
enriching exalted persons in Belgium. The virtual closing 
of the country to traders of other than Belgian nationality 
was suspicious, and some of the missionaries were giving 
terrible accounts of the forcing of the rubber trade. The 
trial of Dr Carl Peters in Berlin this year on charges of 
excessive cruelty in German East Africa, for which he was 
sentenced to be dismissed the service and to pay fines, was 
disturbing the general conscience on the conditions of 
European rule in Africa. 

A curious incident of the year in England was a fresh 
onslaught on betting, which threatened at one time to 
have astonishing results. The Anti-Gambling League had 
brought an extremely bold test case. Its secretary, Mr 
Hawke, sued a bookmaker named Dunn, and in the result 
three judges, including so notoriously sporting a judge 
as Mr Justice Hawkins, held that Tattersall's ring was 
a " place " within the meaning of the Act of 1853, which 
made illegal resort to any place for the purpose of betting. 
Dunn was merely walking about in the ring at Hurst Park 
without any mark of his calling, and therefore the case 
appeared to settle the whole question of the legality of 
betting. If betting in the ring was illegal, would not 
any place where a bet was made become a " place " 
under the Act ? It must be said that a number of 
sporting people were not sorry to see the attack upon pro- 
fessional bookmaking. It had spread from horse-racing 
to football ; and seemed likely to provide a form of ex- 
citement which might in the end destroy interest in sport 
and athletics, and reduce them to mere means for gambling. 
In a second case, Powell v. Kempton Park Racecourse 
Company, the Lord Chief Justice, following the previous 
decision, held that the plaintiff was entitled to an injunc- 
tion restraining the defendants from opening Tattersall's 
enclosure ; and the company's defence, that they did not 
open it for betting purposes and need not be held to know 


what went on in it, was in vain. The situation promised 
to become farcical, when the Court of Appeal (the case 
reached that court in a month, which gives some measure 
of the place of sport in English affairs) reversed the Lord 
Chief Justice's decision. One Lord Justice in the Appeal 
Court still held to it that every place where a bet was made 
was a " place " within the Act, not shrinking from the 
logical conclusion that this would render every private bet 
illegal. The case was carried to the House of Lords, and 
there went finally against the Anti-Gambling League, by 
a majority of eight to two of the law lords. The vexed 
question of the meaning of the word " place " in the Act 
of 1853 was settled by the House of Lords' judgment, 
which ruled that the word must be held to apply to some 
" house, room or office," or place of that kind, and could 
not fairly be applied to a quarter of an acre of ground on a 

The Penrhyn quarry dispute lasted until nearly the end 
of August. Helped by private collections all over the 
country, and also by funds raised by Welsh choirs, 
the men had held out for almost a year. In the 
settlement which was reached at last they won the right 
of combination in a minor degree, but Lord Penrhyn 
carried his decision to allow no general quarry committee, 
and to refuse to receive any complaints except from 
individuals, or from a deputation of the particular class 
of men professing a grievance in a word, his refusal to 
recognise the men as a body corporate. The men also 
obtained the stoppage of the practice of sub-letting con- 
tracts, which had led to a sweating of wages. Meanwhile 
a serious strike of engineers had broken out ; the London 
men demanded an eight-hours day. The masters replied 
by discharging 25 per cent, of their men ; and the masters 
in the north-east of England and on the Clyde, in order to 
stand by the London masters, discharged men in the same 
proportion, with the intention of burdening the trade 


union with out-of-work pay to a degree which would 
prevent the union's resources being exclusively at the 
service of the London men. Then the union called out 
all its men in the trade, and by the beginning of July the 
dispute, which had started in London in May, had reached 
very grave proportions. Seventy thousand men were on 
strike ; and the strike came at a time when the works were 
full of orders ; electric tramways were spreading with great 
rapidity, and there was a vast quantity of work to be done 
in equipping them. The strike was a determined one ; 
the trade union held out in a manner which caused the 
masters to assert that it must be using for strike pay 
funds accumulated for other purposes, such as super- 
annuation pay. It was suggested also that, in order 
to keep the funds up, the union was winking at the return 
to work of some of its men. In December two proposals 
for a settlement, reached by conference, were put to a 
ballot of the men the first that the masters' assertion of 
unquestioned control of their works should be accepted, 
and the second that there should be a provisional arrange- 
ment for a fifty-one-hours week, as approximating to the 
men's demand. Mr John Burns (himself an engineer) and 
other leaders of the strike introduced into the eight-hours- 
day demand an offer to take only one meal -time in the day. 
The proposals were rejected by an overwhelming majority 
of the men, and the strike continued. There were 
threatenings of strikes among the railwaymen and the 
cotton employees as well, but these were fortunately 
averted. Labour was concentrating its aims anew, after 
its defeats at the polls two years previously. The Trade 
Union Congress of 1897 put forward a very large pro- 
gramme, which included, in addition to the eight-hours day, 
the taxation of ground values, the limitation of shop hours, 
reform of the law of conspiracy, the abolition of child 
labour under the age of fifteen and of night labour for all 
persons under the age of eighteen, and a number of detailed 


matters of inspection and supervision of industry. The 
milder form of comment on this list was that it lacked 
legislative definiteness ; but the social legislation of the 
past years was producing a sharper comment to the effect 
that Labour was acquiring a privileged position in the 
community. The annual Labour report of the Board of 
Trade spoke of general diminution of hours of work, and 
general increase of wages, including even the agricultural 
labourer. The case of the small employer was felt to be 
growing hard ; but it was not perceived that the economic 
changes, which had drawn so much accumulated capital 
into manufacture, must necessarily alter the position of the 
small employer. He could not regard his returns in the 
same light as a man could, to whom they were but dividend 
on money invested. However, some of the conferences 
of Labour, such as those of the Miners, the Co-operative 
Societies, the Friendly Societies, suggested the comforting 
comment that Labour had more interests and more voices 
than its most advanced spokesmen represented ; in the 
multiplicity some safety for the employers was felt to be 
implied. A suggestion was made, upon the publication in 
July of a Home Office report on some dangerous trades 
the handling of horse-hair and rags, especially that the 
trade unions might do good by calling the attention of 
workmen to the perils of carelessness in such trades, and 
educating the men to attend to the precautions specified in 
Home Office rules. But for the moment the unions could 
hardly deal with more than their conflicts with capital. 

The year witnessed two notable events in the history 
of art in England. The Tate Gallery was opened, and for 
the first time the work of modern English painters, who 
had led a genuinely indigenous movement, became an 
acknowledged portion of the fabric of British art. In the 
main the collection housed in the Gallery was, indeed, a 
thoroughly official collection; the Royal Academy held 
sway, and at once began the policy of using the Gallery as 


a repository of works bought under the Chantrey Bequest. 
Yet even this was not altogether a disadvantage ; the ac- 
cumulation in public of the fruits of a fund administered in 
a spirit completely at variance with the most enlightened 
and most informed views of the day was a demonstration 
of the narrowness of the Academy's range. The other 
event of the year was the passing of the famous Wallace 
Collection into the possession of the nation. It had long 
been known as one of the greatest collections in existence, 
the main portion consisting of French furniture and 
decorative objects, and French pictures and sculpture ; 
there was also a choice collection of armour of all periods 
and countries, Japanese, Indian and Arabian, as well as 
European. The whole had been collected by Sir Richard 
Wallace, who was supposed to be the natural son of the 
fourth Marquis of Hertford, and so grandson of the 
notorious Marquis, who was the original of Thackeray's 
Lord Steyne and Disraeli's Lord Monmouth. For this 
account of his parentage there is no known authority. 
Sir Richard Wallace, who had been Lord Hertford's con- 
fidential secretary and adopted son, lived all his life in 
Paris, modest and retiring, but known to connoisseurs as 
perhaps the greatest collector of the age. At the time 
of his death in 1890 there was some speculation as to 
the future of the collection, which it was believed he had 
destined for the British nation. But he died without 
making a will, and his treasures passed absolutely to 
Lady Wallace. In 1897 she died, and it was found that 
she had done what he had been expected to do. After 
some discussion as to the suitable housing of the collection 
the Government acquired Hertford House, in Manchester 
Square ; and were thus able to display the wonderful things 
in the town mansion of the family from which their 
collector had derived his fortune. 

One of the results of the conflict of opinion on the 
assistance to be given to Voluntary schools was to bring 


out the great elasticity with which the Education Acts were 
now being administered. The strides made by technical 
education have already been mentioned. It was basing 
itself on the broadest view of its objects, and a report 
published by the Technical Education Board of the London 
County Council early this year lays down, as principles 
of the Board's work, that the early stages of scientific 
training must be purely educational, not technological, and 
that the only lasting commercial value of technical instruc- 
tion was in its being given to well-educated minds. The 
same conclusions, though in a negative form, were really 
inherent in the neat criticism made by The Times on the 
proceedings of an International Conference on Technical 
Education, held in June. The criticism was that in this 
country the quality of technical education in the upper 
grades was not high enough, while the quantity of it in 
the lower grades was wasteful. 1 The hope of those inter- 
ested in national education rested largely in the Higher 
Grade Board Schools, institutions which had grown up . 
quietly under the Education Acts, though they had not 
been contemplated by the f ramers of the Acts. There were 
now sixty of them in Great Britain, fifty -five being under 
School Board management. The lower classes in these 
schools were taught on the lines of the upper standards 
of a public elementary school ; the higher classes were 
taught as an " organised science school " under the Science 
and Art Department of the Board of Education. Such 
instruction lasted for three years, and included science, 
mathematics, drawing, manual training, English, and at 
least one foreign language. All the schools were large 
ones, accommodating from five hundred to two thousand 
children each, and all had been filled as soon as they were 
opened, thus proving themselves the answer to a real 
demand. They supplied what nothing else supplied, an 
extension of elementary education, by which scholars of 
1 The Times, i/th June 1897.- 


any merit could pass on without a break to opportunities 
of mental equipment. The Science and Art Department 
usually bore a considerable share of the expense of the 
higher classes. But there was a hostile feeling among 
ratepayers against the schools. True, in some cases it 
died down after a few years' experience of the results ; 
but this was not a general rule. Moreover, there were 
a very large number of small country grammar schools, 
depending for their prosperity upon the fees paid by the 
small tradesmen or the artisans, who liked their children 
to go to better institutions than the elementary schools. 
These now found the higher grade schools good enough 
for their purpose, and saved themselves grammar school 
fees. The grammar schools consequently complained of 
unfair competition, and found no insignificant body of 
ratepayers ready to join in the charge that higher educa- 
tion could not be given by the Board schools without 
misappropriation of rates. 

The new spirit in the stamping out of disease by attacking 
its direct and contributory causes was active this year, both 
in matters of housing and of water-supply, owing to out- 
breaks of typhoid fever at Maidstone and King's Lynn; and 
also in drastic orders for the muzzling of dogs. The Govern- 
ment pursued this latter policy in the face of grumbling, 
which even amounted, it was thought, to a decrease of the 
Unionist vote at some bye-elections. Respectable people, 
who could see readily enough that the application of severe 
sanitary regulations in poor quarters was wise, refused to 
have severe regulations applied in another matter to 
themselves. Yet the medical authorities, and Pasteur 
himself, had asserted over and over again that in any 
country a universal muzzling order, combined with 
measures of quarantine for all imported dogs, would 
entirely put an end to rabies. The Government now 
took the bold course, and issued a universal muzzling 
order in April. They could point, before the year was 


out, to notable proof of the value of their action. In 1895 
there had been over the whole country 608 cases of rabies ; 
in 1897 there were only 141. In London alone, where the 
London County Council had already achieved some good 
results, the cases in 1896 numbered 161, and in 1897 only 
29. The previous application of a muzzling order to 
Lancashire and Yorkshire 1 had reduced the number of 
cases in those counties from 461 in 1895, to 39 in 1896. 
Ten years later, as has been remarked earlier in this 
volume, England had practically forgotten that T such a 
disease as rabies existed. 

The summer of 1897 was the period of the famous rush 
to the Klondyke goldfields. It had long been known that 
gold was in those regions of the extreme North -West 2 ; 
but the appalling difficulties of approach to the country 
access by the almost Arctic rivers and passes being only 
possible for a few weeks during the summer and the 
miseries and privations of life there, when once the mines 
were reached, had hitherto held back all but the stoutest 
pioneers. But now the gold fever broke out, and terrors 
could not stand against it. Men poured northward, some 
by boat to the Klondyke River, others madly by the land 
route through Western Canada. They died in hundreds, 
the vast majority of men starting with no knowledge 
whatever of the difficulties of the journey or the 
delays to be provided against. Death held the Chilcoot 
Pass, as he had never held the most arid waste of Australia 
in the days of the gold fever there. 

Two events filled the newspapers just before Christmas. 
One was the death of William Terriss, an extremely 
popular actor of melodrama. He was stabbed as he was 
entering the stage-door of the Adelphi Theatre, by a man 
who had been disappointed in applications for charitable 
relief. It was a strange thing that a man who had suffered 
in his life so many fictitious violences, should meet his end 
1 See page 396. 2 See page 56. 


by violence. The other event, while in one sense treated 
as comic, was not without serious effect upon the temper 
of the country in international affairs. The German 
Emperor had decided to send a squadron of warships to 
China, where some German missionaries had been killed. 
Throughout the year there had been a somewhat un- 
dignified scramble for advantage in China on the part 
of the European Powers, owing to the success of Japan in 
forcing open Chinese markets to her trade by operations of 
war. On the departure of the German squadron from 
Kiel the Emperor charged his brother, Prince Henry of 
Prussia, who was in command, to remember that he went 
as " the mailed fist " of German authority. Prince 
Henry replied in a like strain, to the effect that he would 
inscribe his brother's augustness on his banners. England 
was very ready to seize upon the ludicrous side of these 
exchanges ; but the jesting sprang from the spirit of 
suspicion with which Englishmen had regarded every act 
of the young Emperor, since his accession to the throne. 



ENGLAND showed now a singular unconscious- 
ness of what was at hand ; the army estab- 
lishment was increased, the navy was strengthened 
both in ships and in men ; and never had such increases 
been made with less public concern, or less anxiety as to 
the need for them. 

In truth it was a year of lively interests quite dis- 
sociated from the main preoccupation of the Government. 
Some of these interests were other people's business rather 
than our own, but that did not prevent us from ex- 
pressing ourselves about them. In one instance our 
expression of opinion undoubtedly did harm ; in another 
it did good. 

At the beginning of the year France was torn 
asunder by the violent controversy which had arisen, a 
few months earlier, as to the conviction of Captain Alfred 
Dreyfus on a charge of selling French military secrets to 
Germany. He had been condemned by court martial, and 
was now a prisoner on Devil's Island, the French penal 
settlement. Many notable Frenchmen found the convic- 
tion lying heavy on their consciences. Captain Dreyfus 
was a Jew, and there was an uncomfortable fear that 
Anti-Semite feeling had counted far too heavily in the 
trial, if indeed it had not entirely dictated the proceed- 
ings. Those who believed in the accused's innocence 
thought that the efforts to detect the criminal had 
ended somewhat too readily when suspicion pointed to 
an officer who was a Jew. The agitation in France rose 

43 1 


in January to a dangerous height. One newspaper, Le 
Siecle, published in full the text of the indictment against 
Captain Dreyfus, which it could not have done unless the 
agitation had some supporters in high place in the army. 
Another newspaper, L'Aurore, published a tremendous 
letter from M. Zola, the novelist, accusing the Government, 
the judiciary, the police, the heads of the army, and other 
national authorities of gross perversion of justice. A 
new trial of Captain Dreyfus was demanded. On the 
other side, Anti-Semite feeling allied itself with the passion- 
ate devotion of France to her army ; and all who ventured 
to call in question a decision by an army tribunal on an 
army case were assailed as traitors of the lowest kind. 
English opinion, not at the moment disposed to take 
the kindliest views of French affairs, plunged in to 
support the champions of Dreyfus ; and when Colonel 
Picquart, who had boldly taken the side of those demand- 
ing revision of the sentence, was placed in retirement, 
English criticism grew louder. Profound ignorance of 
the facts of the case, and of the procedure of the court 
martial, did not prevent people in this country from 
confidently expressing their views; and the objection 
felt by French people to any reconsideration of an army 
verdict found practically no sympathy here. M. Zola 
was put on his trial in Paris for his assault upon the 
various national institutions, and was sentenced to undergo 
one year's imprisonment, and to pay a fine of 3000 francs. 
At once people on this side of the Channel, who had no 
good word to say for M. Zola as an author, found plenty 
to say for him as a martyr. In French eyes the attitude 
of Great Britain at this time must have been very offensive, 
not so much because of its busybody interference, as 
because of its contemptuous dismissal of French suscepti- 
bilities as to the honour of the army. 

But at the height of this controversy a more startling 
event drew off British attention. The United States warship 


Maine was sunk by an explosion in Havana harbour ; and 
swift as the news itself was the universal conclusion that 
war between the United States and Spain would follow. 
Those two countries had for some time been on bad terms. 
Spain, comparatively poor, and no longer possessing 
the strong arm of ancient days, had been struggling 
against a revolution in Cuba, which, pitilessly repressed in 
a sporadic way, remained vigorous and persistent. The 
Cuban revolutionaries had enlisted the sympathy of the 
United States ; but Spain, finding her task difficult 
enough as it was, did not incline to reply amiably to 
intervention by the Americans. The lives of American 
citizens in Havana, the seat of the Spanish Govern- 
ment in Cuba, were considered to be in some 
jeopardy when rioting took place there ; the cruiser 
Maine was sent to anchor in the harbour for their pro- 
tection and their refuge in case of necessity. About this 
time opinion in the United States was inflamed by the 
publication of some unofficial letters written by the Spanish 
Minister in Washington, in which he had commented in 
undiplomatic language on the relations between the States 
and the Cuban insurgents. When the news came of the 
sinking of the Maine on 15th February there was probably 
not an American in the whole of the States who did not 
believe it to be the act of Spaniards a deliberate and 
dastardly act of hostility. 

But before war actually broke out, a third shifting of 
British interest occurred. The reconquest of the Soudan 
was undertaken in good earnest. A year earlier, on 5th 
February 1897, Sir Michael Hicks Beach had announced 
in the House of Commons the intention of the Government 
to " give the final blow to the baleful power of the Khalifa." 
The year had passed without any very spectacular move- 
ment. But the railway was pushed forward from Wady 
Haifa towards Abu Hamed, a short cut avoiding the bend 
of the Nile by Dongola, and on 7th August 1897 Abu Hamed 


was occupied after a sharp fight in which all the dervishes 
engaged against the Egyptian troops were either killed or 
made prisoners. So complete a defeat had its effects at 
once. Berber was evacuated by the Khalifa's forces and 
occupied by the Egyptians, the advance of the railway 
to that point being immediately undertaken. The be- 
ginning of 1898 brought more exciting news. Kitchener 
reported that the dervishes were advancing upon him 
from Khartoum. He made ready for them, if they should 
choose to be the attackers, and encamped in a strong 
position between Berber and the junction of the river 
Atbara with the Nile. The Emir Mahmoud brought 
12,000 dervishes up to Nakheila, on the Atbara; 
as he came no farther, Kitchener, not liking his im- 
mobility, sent out reconnaissances. Mahmoud was found 
in a strong zariba in the bush, and Kitchener laid his plans 
with caution. On 8th April he attacked, and in forty 
minutes Mahmoud himself was a prisoner, 2000 of his 
men were dead, and the rest scattered to the desert 
perils of privation and thirst. Machine guns, vastly 
improved since the days of the earlier Soudan warfare, 
accounted now, as later in the year, for the very large 
numbers of the slain. News of this battle made real to 
people at home the work of reconquest, and during the 
summer British reinforcements were despatched to join 
the forces under Kitchener's command. 

A fortnight later war had formally broken out between 
the United States and Spain. The States Senate recog- 
nised the independence of Cuba, the respective diplomatic 
envoys were withdrawn, a squadron of the American fleet 
sailed from Key West for Havana, and the whole energy of 
the American nation went into pouring troops, regulars 
and volunteers, southward to Florida for transhipment to 
Cuba. At the same time another Spanish possession, 
Manila, was attacked by a squadron which had been at 
Hong-Kong. The war has a place in a history of the 


English people, because every phase of it was followed 
with the keenest interest here. At times it was a some- 
what hilarious interest. We had not then had our own 
experience of the uncertainties of bombardment with 
modern long-range weapons and modern explosives ; so 
that the occasional intimations from the Spanish side of 
ludicrously small results of an apparently terrific bombard- 
ment (the mule of Matanzas, reported to be the only 
casualty of a gun-fire of many hours, became quite famous) 
were received with jesting. Moreover, though Admiral 
Dewey succeeded in promptly destroying the Spanish 
fleet in Manila harbour, the Spaniards showed every 
sign of making a good fight elsewhere. Admiral 
Cervera succeeded in navigating a fleet right across the 
Atlantic and entering Santiago harbour, eluding all the 
American warships that were scouring the sea to inter- 
cept him. No one thought the conflict a level one, but 
this achievement somewhat restored the balance for the 

Home affairs presented very little of interest. Business 
was good on the whole, and the Bankers' Clearing House 
returns reached the highest total yet known. Gold imports 
had become so large that, besides satisfying the require- 
ments of other countries, England was at last able to 
increase materially her own bullion reserve. It is no 
diminution of these evidences of prosperity to find the 
Stock Exchange rather less active. Theie were, as we 
shall shortly see, reasons which checked speculation by 
the general public. Save for a coal strike in South Wales 
there was no serious trade dispute. In science no new 
theory or new invention arose to catch the popular mindj; 
but for those behind the scenes the advances made in 
knowledge of the properties of the Hertzian waves, upon 
which wireless telegraphy was founded were considerable. 
Mr W. H. Preece, chief of the engineering department 
of the Post Office, and Dr Oliver Lodge were busy with 


experiments ; but the experiments which were already 
making the name of Marconi famous were meeting with 
more obvious success. Parliament met for a session to 
which very little attention was paid. The Ministerial 
party was again attacked by acute indigestion in assimi- 
lating Liberal Unionism. Lingering fragments of Mr 
Chamberlain's Radicalism were discerned in a Bill de- 
signed to meet the unwavering hostility of large numbers 
of people to vaccination, by permitting parents to make 
a declaration before a magistrate, expressing conscientious 
objection to the method of inoculation. His influence, 
again, was traced in the introduction of the Irish Local 
Government Bill, which Mr Balfour had promised. Both 
measures were attended with friction throughout their 
course. But it was almost entirely parliamentary friction ; 
and there was little controversy in the country on domestic 
affairs. The Army Estimates showed an increase of 
21,739 men in the establishment ; the Navy Estimates 
reached almost twenty-four million pounds, and provided 
for fresh construction of ships and for an increase of 
6300 men. Most remarkable of all, a supplementary 
naval vote of no less than eight millions was passed practi- 
cally without discussion during July. The spirit of the 
Liberal party was at a deplorably low ebb. We have had 
occasion to see that, even before Mr Gladstone's retire- 
ment, the party had had little unity save in devotion to 
him. After his retirement the rifts opened rapidly. 
Lord Bosebery's surrender of the leadership led only to 
a momentary bridging of them ; and they were now 
opening again under Sir William Harcourt. An advanced 
section, joining hands with the Labour members, refused 
to forgive the leaders for having missed the opportunity 
in 1894 of trying conclusions with the House of Lords. 
Another section, weary of the continuance of a Whig 
tradition in leadership, clamoured for a leader of true 
modern Radicalism. Yet another section, feeling the 


new Imperial spirit in the air, were of opinion that a narrow 
and nagging temper was being displayed in perpetual 
criticisms of Mr Chamberlain. The utter weakness of the 
opposition caused by these divisions, was responsible 
both for languor in Parliament and for lack of public 
interest in politics. 

. ^On 19th May Mr Gladstone died. That was, indeed, no 
occasion for the refreshment of party loyalty alone ; it was 
by common consent a time of universal mourning and 
national pride. The four years since Mr Gladstone's retire- 
ment, to him the means of a calm and dignified approach 
to death, had given him back to the nation from the strife 
of party. The British people rose to the height of that 
noble appreciation of a life greatly lived which sounded 
from all the world outside. From France, from Russia, 
from the British colonies and the United States came 
tributes of honour and respect ; from Italy, Greece and 
Macedonia came expressions of a more profound sense of 
loss and of a more intimate gratitude for the work of a 
great lover of freedom. By a decision which had no pre- 
cedent in our history, and was a worthy acceptance by the 
nation of the lofty sentiment of the civilised world, Mr 
Gladstone's body was laid in state in Westminster Hall, 
and for two days multitudes of people of every rank filed 
past the bier. 1 On 28th May the body was buried in 
Westminster Abbey ; and, as the lying-in-state had been 
the token of Mr Gladstone's place in the hearts of the 
people, his funeral was the token of his place among 
the rulers of the people. The Prince of Wales and the 
Duke of York walked beside the coffin as pall-bearers ; 
and other pall-bearers were the Prime Minister and the 
leaders of the two parties in both Houses of Parliament, 
Lord Rosebery, the Duke of Rutland, and Mr Gladstone's 
friends, Lord Rendel and Mr Armitstead. Representatives 

1 The police calculated that 250,000 people passed through the 
Hall during the two days. 


of foreign sovereigns were present. The mighty mould 
of the leader who had passed away was everywhere re- 
cognised. New problems were arising for his successors, 
in an England that he hardly recognised. " I am thank- 
ful," he wrote after his retirement, 1 " to have borne a great 
part in the emancipating labours of the last sixty years, 
but entirely uncertain how, had I now to begin my life, 
I could face the very different problems of the next sixty 
years. Of one thing I am, and always have been, con- 
vinced it is not by the State that man can be regenerated 
and the terrible woes of this darkened world effectually 
dealt with." That was the voice of the past ; and yet at 
the moment what voice had the future ? None, it would 
seem, in the leaders of Liberalism, who, distracted and 
divided among themselves, knew not what their party was, 
nor where it stood. To some of those by the grave in the 
Abbey it may well have seemed that they were burying not 
only a famous Liberal, but all the Liberalism they knew. 

The pace of the American attack in Cuba now quickened. 
Transport difficulties and delays were to some extent 
overcome ; and the fleet under Admiral Schley blockaded 
Santiago harbour. Again an event occurred at home to 
catch the wandering interest of newspaper readers. It 
was announced with startling abruptness that Mr E. T. 
Hooley had filed his petition in bankruptcy. He was a 
man who had risen almost as abruptly into prominence, a 
promoter of companies extremely active during the boom 
in the cycle manufacturing trade. He had reconstituted 
and refloated several large firms, and had also placed upon 
the investment market a good many mechanical inventions 
connected with cycling. In the full flush of his career 
he had bought large estates in the country, and made some 
lavish public gifts. His suite of rooms in one of the big 
London hotels was accustomed to witness daily levees of 

1 To Mr G. W. E. Russell. See Mr Russell's One Look Back, 
p. 265. 


financiers, brokers, large and small investors, journalists, 
traders, inventors, cranks. Company-promoting, profit- 
able as it had been for years past, had never before reached 
so picturesque a point, had never been such an obvious 
and theatrical wielding of forces ; the limited liability 
system in England had never presented itself in so personal 
a manifestation. The news of the bankruptcy was a 
thunderbolt. It was the end of the cycle boom, and the 
beginning of difficult times for companies overweighted 
by a capital disproportionate to any requirements save 
those of a boom. Fashion had already tired of its new 
toy, and Battersea Park no longer glittered with expensive 
machines. American manufacturers were sending over 
by thousands machines of a lighter and less expensive 
type than the English ; the competition in the home 
market was cutting prices. Meanwhile France was com- 
manding the market for motor cars ; and the British 
cycle firms, which might have taken up the new invention, 
were caught in the toils of depression. The names of 
various public men were bandied to and fro during the 
bankruptcy proceedings in Mr Hooley's case ; and once 
again company-promoting acquired a reputation which 
checked even the most ardent speculator. 

The war between the United States and Spain ended 
in August. Early in July Admiral Cervera made a gallant 
but desperate attempt to break through the blockade of 
Santiago. His fleet steamed out of the harbour, and 
turned along the coast. Within a few hours every ship 
was destroyed or captured. Some were sunk, some ran 
ashore blazing from stem to stern. Santiago surrendered 
to the American land forces on 17th July, and on 12th 
August peace negotiations were opened, which ended in 
Spain's acquiescence in the independence of Cuba, and 
the ceding of Manila to the United States. 
^The beginning of September brought news far more ex- 
citing to England. On the 2nd of that month the British 


and Egyptian forces had practically destroyed the Khalifa's 
army at Omdurman, and on the 4th Kitchener had re- 
occupied Khartoum. The flag again waved on those ruined 
walls of the palace, its absence from which had been so tra- 
gically noted on that January morning in 1885. Great was 
the pride in this assertion of British power and persistence ; 
but not less strong an element in the enthusiasm with which 
the news was received was the revelation of our possession 
of a new soldier of the first rank. The battle of Omdurman 
had been won by more than fighting ; and the interest 
in the accounts of the battle was not greater than the 
interest in all that could be told of the masterly organisa- 
tion, the practical care for troops, the sheer business 
ability with which Kitchener had brought his army to its 
victory. True, it was known later that for a short time he 
had been in a somewhat dangerous position ; and that, if 
the Khalifa had had any officer of tactical ability, or any 
renegade European adviser at his elbow, Kitchener's 
communications might have been cut, and he would then 
have been less able to choose the moment of attack in 
confidence. 1 But there was no doubt that the movements 
of the past two years had been masterly, exhaustively con- 
sidered, and above all made, so far as such movements 
could be made, in all the security and material comfort 
that forethought could provide for the troops. Lord 
Kitchener of Khartoum, as he was at once made, became 
a popular idol of a new kind. Men worshipped in him a 
grim and relentless efficiency, a cool soldierliness. The ideal 
of the dashing warrior gave place to the ideal of the " dead- 
certainty warrior." There was, indeed, a severe complete- 
ness in the battle. Of 40,000 or 50,000 dervishes who had 
met him before the walls of Omdurman, 11,000 were killed 
and 16,000 wounded. The British and Egyptian forces 
numbered only 22,000 men less than the casualties alone 
on the other side and their losses were but three officers 
1 Lord Cromer's Modern Egypt, ii. 94, footnote. 


and forty- three men killed, and twenty -one officers and 
three hundred and twenty men wounded. The Khalifa 
himself, with a band of his principal emirs and a broken 
force of dervishes, escaped from the slaughter and wandered 
for a year in the desert. Then on 24th November 
1899 he too was swept into the iron completeness of the 
work. One of Lord Kitchener's officers, who afterwards 
succeeded him as Sirdar, Sir Francis Wingate, surprised 
the flying, harried little army by rapid and skilful marches, 
and brought it to bay. When that last fight was over the 
Khalifa was found dead on the field, with every one of his 
emirs dead, each on his prayer-mat, around their leader. 
The total cost of the two years' campaign under the man 
of marvellous organisation was no more than 2,354,000. 

The reconquest of the Soudan had been saved, by a 
mistake on the part of France and Russia, from being 
hampered by international complications. 1 Could the 
future government of it equally be saved ? Before this 
question was asked the British and Egyptian flags were 
hoisted side by side at Khartoum ; and though diplomat- 
ists might find no proper formula for a joint control by 
Great Britain and Egypt, in which Great Britain was first, 
and yet Egypt not quite second, the solution took that 
form, and succeeded in spite of its resistance to formulation. 
The most critical danger arose within a week of the battle 
of Omdurman. The move made by the French towards 
the Upper Nile, to which Sir Charles Dilke with his usual 
command of little -known facts had tried to call attention 
in 1896, 2 was made public in a perilously sudden way by the 
news that Lord Kitchener had started from Khartoum 
up the Blue Nile, in consequence of information that a 
French force was in possession of a place called Fashoda. 
Temper rose sharply both in Great Britain and in France. 
On this side of the Channel it was felt that an attempt was 
being made to wrest from us, now that we had made the 
1 See p. 398. 2 See p. 397. 


Soudan a safe region again, some part of the regained 
territory. On the other side it was felt that the British, 
greedy for rule, were denying to a band of courageous 
explorers the just rewards of their skill and endurance. 
Lord Kitchener had the wisdom not to force action upon 
the French officer, Captain Marchand, whom he found at 
Fashoda. He merely established a British post there as 
well, and returned to Khartoum. The fact that Captain 
Marchand remained at Fashoda, the fact that the British 
flag was at Fashoda, were just sufficient to put popular 
opinion on either side in the right in its own view ; and two 
months later, on 4th November, Lord Salisbury was able 
to announce that the French had withdrawn from the 
place. By that time Lord Kitchener was in England, 
visiting the Queen at Balmoral, receiving a sword of honour 
from the City of London, and showing to the enthusiastic 
clamour of the populace an unmoved countenance, which 
exactly suited the crowd's conception of him as the em- 
bodiment of " efficiency for its own sake." The French 
nation, on its side, had enough to think about. An officer 
of the army, Colonel Henry, had confessed to forging one 
of three letters upon which, the upholders of the Dreyfus 
trial largely relied, and had then committed suicide. At 
the beginning of October the Cour de Cassation obtained 
the leave of the Government to undertake revision of the 
trial ; and in this upheaval of its confidence the French 
people found Fashoda but a minor incident. } , ; 

Towards the end of the year Lord Salisbury fluttered 
public interest by appointing Mr George Curzon to be 
Viceroy of India, with the title of Lord Curzon of Kedleston. 
Mr Curzon's fame rested, so far as England at large was 
concerned, less on his knowledge of the Far East, where he 
had travelled in curious countries on the north-west 
frontier of India and in Persia, than on his reputation as 
one of the most opinionated and positive young men that 
Oxford had sent into public life. He had been Under- 


Secretary for India just before the dissolution of 1892, and 
was Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the present 
Government. He was not yet forty, and even in this year 
of perpetual excitements his appointment to the Vice- 
royalty was received with a gasp of astonishment. 

Of South Africa little was heard in this year. The officers 
concerned in the Jameson Raid, with the exception of Sir 
John Willoughby and Colonel Rhodes, were restored to 
their places in the British army ; and after the battle of 
Omdurman, where Colonel Rhodes, who was acting as a 
war correspondent, was wounded, he also was restored to 
his rank. Mr Cecil Rhodes was re-elected a director of the 
British South Africa Company. These events had their 
meaning, but nothing at the moment pressed the meaning 




THE following are lists of the principal members of the 
Governments formed during the period covered by this 
volume : 





















Prime Minister, First Lord of the 
Treasury and Lord Privy Seal 

Lord Privy Seal. 

Lord High Chancellor. 

Lord President of Council. 

Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

Secretary of State, Home Depart- 

Secretary of State, Foreign Af- 

Secretary of State, Colonial Af- 

Secretary of State, War. 

Secretary of State, India. 

First Lord of Admiralty. 

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. 

Postm aster-General . 

President of Board of Trade. 

President, Local Goverrrr.ent 

Chancellor, Duchy of I arc aster. 





















HENRY CHAPLIN (not in Cabinet) 

Prime Minister and Foreign Sec- 

Lord High Chancellor. 
Lord President of Council. 
Lord Privy Seal. 

Chancellor of Exchequer. 

Secretary of State, Home De- 

Secretary of State, Colonial Af- 

Secretary of State, War. 

Secretary of State, India. 

Secretary for Scotland. 

First Lord of Admiralty. 

First Lord of Treasury. 

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. 

Lord Chancellor of Ireland. 

President of Board of Trade. 

Chancellor, Duchy of Lancaster. 





Prime Minister, First Lord of the 
Treasury and Lord Privy Seal. 

Lord High Chancellor. 

Lord President of Council. 

Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

Secretary of State, Home De- 

Secretary of State, Foreign Af- 

Secretary of State, Colonial Af- 

Secretary of State, War. 

Secretary of State, India. 




EARL OF DALHOUSIE (not in v Secretary for Scotland 

Cabinet) J 


JAMES STANSFELD (not in Cabinet) / 

First Lord of Admiralty. 
Chief Secretary for Ireland. 
President of Board of Trade. 
President, Local Government 



















Prime Minister, First Lord of 
the Treasury and Lord Privy 

Lord High Chancellor. 

Lord President of Council. 

Chancellor of Exchequer. 

Secretary of State, Home De- 

Secretary of State, Foreign Af- 

Secretary of State, Colonial Af- 

Secretary of State, War. 

Secretary of State, India. 

Secretary for Scotland. 

First Lord of Admiralty. 

Lord Chancellor of Ireland. 

Chief Secretary for Ireland; 
President of Board of Trade. 
Chancellor, Duchy of Lancaster. 










Prime Minister, First Lord of the 
Treasury and Lord Privy Seal. 

Lord High Chancellor. 

Lord President of Council. 

Secretary of State, India. 

Chancellor of Exchequer. 

Secretary of State, Home De- 

Secretary of State, Foreign Af- 

Secretary of State, Colonial Af- 

Secretary of State, War. 

Secretary for Scotland. 

First Lord of the Admiralty. 

Chief Secretary for Ireland. 

Postmaster-General . 

President of Board of Trade. 

President, Local Government 

Chancellor, Duchy of Lancaster. 

First Commissioner of Works. 

Vice-President, Committee of 



















Prime Minister and Foreign Sec- 

Lord High Chancellor. 

Lord President of Council 

Lord Privy Seal. 

Chancellor of Exchequer. 

Secretary of State, Home De- 

Secretary of State, Colonial Af- 

Secretary of State, War. 

Secretary of State, India. 

Secretary for Scotland. 

First Lord of Admiralty. 

First Lord of Treasury. 

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. 

Lord Chancellor of Ireland. 

President of Board of Trade. 

Chancellor, Duchy of Lancaster. 

President, Local Government 

President, Board of Agriculture. 

President, Board of Works and 
Public Buildings.